Backgrounder: online engagement on the recommendations made to Canada under its third Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review is a peer-review process before the United Nations Human Rights Council. Under the Universal Periodic Review, the human rights record of each country is reviewed by other United Nations Member States. This provides an opportunity for countries to discuss their domestic human rights framework as well as measures taken to promote and protect human rights in their country.

Goal of the initiative

On May 11, 2018, Canada appeared before the Human Rights Council under its third Universal Periodic Review. Canada must now prepare a formal response, to be submitted by the end of August 2018, indicating which of the 275 recommendations made by other countries it accepts, and which it does not accept.

Engagement platform POL.IS

POL.IS is a digital public engagement platform designed to gather feedback from large groups around a particular topic. It excels at gathering a diversity of opinion without giving priority to any particular aspect of the discussion. It also allows for conversations to evolve on a single platform, regardless of the official language with which a participant prefers to interact.

Questions about the public engagement and its platform

1) How does POL.IS work?

POL.IS is cloud-based, and can be accessed from any device. Participants can build a conversation with each other by “voting” (participant to indicate his choice by selecting agree, disagree or pass/unsure) on a list of tweet-style statements. POL.IS also allows individuals to submit their own statements, on which other participants can vote. As statements are added, the list of experiences and perspectives on which others can vote grows, creating a virtual conversation.

2) I came back to the website and can’t find any of the previous statements I voted on. Why?

POL.IS is very efficient and keeps track of which statements you've already voted on, provided you use the same device and browser when you return to visit the page. In this way you can always see and vote on the new statements that have been added by other participants since your last visit. It also allows you to contribute statements anytime they come to you, just like in a real conversation.

3) Why are you using an automated machine translator?

To ensure a better understanding of the issues in both official languages, an automated non-governmental translation tool is available, however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the translation. By using the automated translation service, the user accepts the legal implications of any shortcomings or differences in the translation.

The goal of leveraging automated machine translation directly tied to our desire to have one robust conversation regardless of a participant's chosen official language. In order to engage communities across Canada and avoid having two separate conversations, we have created one channel where participants are free to engage in the official language of their choice.

4) Are statements being monitored?

Content added by participants, as third parties, will be monitored and we reserve the right to remove inappropriate statements including those that have obscene language or sexual content, threaten or defame any person or organization, violate the legal ownership interest of another party, privacy laws, promote commercial services or products, or are not topically related to the discussion. We will also ensure that there are no duplicate statements in order to not dilute the conversation.

5) Should I be worried about my privacy?

Not at all. All statements are submitted anonymously and monitored daily before being posted.

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