Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canadian Human Rights Commission

December 06, 2007 11:11 ET

Canadian Human Rights Commission: Commentary-December 10, 2007-International Human Rights Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 6, 2007) -

Fifty-nine years ago on this December 10th, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, creating a foundation of equality, fairness, compassion and respect for all. From that point on, no person needed any longer to silently suffer the indignity of discrimination.

Since 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Act has become a powerful tool to right the wrongs of discrimination in Canada. The Commission has addressed numerous discrimination complaints and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has issued many rulings. The result is a strong laminate of accumulated rights with each individual layer reinforcing the whole.

We have achieved a lot but a lot remains to be done. We all know that these inalienable rights are still challenged in many ways, both here and abroad.

One important lesson learned since the UN declaration is that a reasonable divergence of voices on rights issues is welcome.

As a nation, we can be proud of the common tie that binds our human rights achievements. That common tie is tolerance. Our tolerance has allowed us to see other sides, to ultimately accept rights won by others. Our tolerance is one of the most admired traits of our society and must continue to prevail.

Our society has advanced human rights through federal, provincial and territorial rights commissions, through tribunals and the courts. Yet we should in no way boast that the work has all been done, or that we can let down our guard. Doing so would be a reckless disregard for the irrefutable truth that human rights are never permanently settled. They are fluid and fragile. Protecting them demands our unwavering attention. We must never allow self-satisfaction to blur our focus.

As recently appointed chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, my goal is to help strengthen human rights institutions around the world. We can make a difference: one right earned strengthens a community; one right shared strengthens a community of nations.

May this International Human Rights Day provide all of us the opportunity to reflect on our tolerance and renew our commitment to the cause of human rights.

Jennifer Lynch, Q.C., Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Contact Information

  • Canadian Human Rights Commission
    Communications Division
    613-943-9118