Appendix D: Your Rights

The John Humphrey Centre, Rights in Play Guide, provides the following background information on United Nations and Canadian human rights laws:[1]


We need human rights to live life in freedom and dignity and have our basic needs met. Human rights are the basic privileges and freedoms that all humans are entitled to. They include political, economic, social and cultural rights. States have an obligation to promote these rights, however, in many places, people still struggle to meet their basic needs, attain equality and reach their full potential.

The ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations in 1948 created the first global document to guarantee human rights to everyone. The UDHR contains 30 articles. Today, there are more than 80 international treaties that build upon the tenets set out in the UDHR. Some examples include:

• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948)[2]

• The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (1965)

• The Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (1981)

• The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989)[3]

• The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2008)

Individual countries may also have their own human rights legislation in place in addition to global documents.



The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [the Charter], signed in 1982, protects the rights and freedoms of everyone in Canada.[4] It is a national legal document that is binding on federal and provincial governments and state officials. Most of the rights outlined apply to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and visitors. Some rights, including the right to vote (Section 3), only apply to citizens. The Charter is one part of the Canadian Constitution. This means that it is the highest law of Canada and therein difficult to change. In addition to the Charter, the federal and provincial governments have passed supplementary human rights laws and the provinces have their own Human Rights Commissions or Tribunals.[5]



Every human being is entitled to the rights laid out in the UDHR, however children also have specific rights that are presented in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), signed in 1989. The CRC is a document of principles that guides how we view children and helps provide us with the tools necessary to ensure that every child survives and develops to their full potential. The CRC outlines 54 articles that protect the rights of children until they turn 18. All articles are important and interconnected.

The CRC is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate all forms of human rights – civil, economic, cultural and social. All countries in the world, except for Somalia and the United States have ratified the CRC. By ratifying the CRC, states show their commitment to protecting children’s rights and become responsible for amending their own laws and policies to better meet children’s rights goals. States are required to report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child with their progress every five years.

The CRC encompasses four types of rights:

1. Survival Rights: The right to life and to have your most basic needs met.

2. Development Rights: Rights that allow you to reach your fullest potential.

3. Participation Rights: Rights that allow you to take an active role in your community.

4. Protection Rights: Rights that protect you from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Canada Ratified the CRC in 1991. To date, Canada has submitted four progress reports on the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the UN.




  • Human rights are universal. They are basic privileges and freedoms that all humans are entitled to. This means that everyone has these rights regardless of their religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex or country of origin.

  • Human rights are inalienable. They cannot be taken away from anyone.

  • Human rights are indivisible, interconnected and mutually reinforcing. All rights are fundamental and it is important that human rights are respected in their entirety.

  • Human rights ensure that people have access to their basic needs such as food, water, shelter, health services, and sanitation. They guarantee protection from violence, deprivation, and suffering.

  • Human rights make sure that everyone can live with dignity and have the ability to thrive. They provide the tools we need to develop to our full potential.

  • Human rights are reciprocal. They go hand-in-hand with responsibility. Everyone has a responsibility to respect the rights of others.

Understanding the Concept:

Human rights are the rights all humans have and are protected through many different international declarations and treaties. These include The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948) and The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989). The CRC protects the rights of those less than 18 years of age. In Canada, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signed in 1982, protects the rights and freedoms of everyone in the country. This means that in addition to the rights proposed in international documents, Canadian law offers added protection.

DID YOU KNOW? [This information can be expanded and amended.]

  • Canadian legal scholar John Peters Humphrey was a principle drafter of the UDHR.

  • The UDHR contains 30 articles that make up your basic human rights.

  • Human rights violations still exist. For example, in 2008, 67 million primary-school-aged children were not in school, 53% of them girls. This violates Article 28 of the CRC - children’s right to education. Over one third of children in urban areas worldwide go unregistered at birth. This is a violation of Article 7 of the CRC – children have the right to an identity.

  • Edmonton was the first Human Rights City in North America.

  • Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10th every year.