Launch of Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations

News release

February 15, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Around the globe, foreign nationals are arbitrarily arrested, sentenced and detained by countries attempting to leverage them for diplomatic gain in their relations with other states. Countries from every continent are coming together to denounce this unjust practice which exposes people who live, work and travel abroad to greater risk.

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosted governments, international organizations and civil society to launch the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, endorsed by 58 countries and the European Union and with the support of the 8th United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  These parties are united in solidarity against this unacceptable practice.

Over a quarter of the world’s countries, from every region, share Canada’s concerns and have taken the principled and humane decision to endorse the declaration to protect their own citizens and those of other countries.

Canada will continue to lead in pressing for action on this critical global issue as is consistent with its commitment to peaceful, effective multilateral solutions.


“Today, a quarter of all countries, from all continents, come together to tell those who are being arbitrarily detained for diplomatic gain that they are not alone. We stand with them. This illegal and immoral practice puts citizens of all countries at risk and it undermines the rule of law. It is unacceptable and it must stop. The number of countries that have endorsed the declaration is a testament to the global importance of this initiative. I thank my predecessor, François-Philippe Champagne, for spearheading the initiative. This is only the beginning. Now we must turn our attention to finding constructive ways to build and sustain international momentum to put an end to arbitrary detention.”

- Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • Arbitrary arrests and detentions are a violation of international human rights law, including Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention,” and Article 9 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” Arbitrary arrest and detention is also prohibited in various regional human rights instruments.

  • The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations states that “consular officers shall have the right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation.”

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Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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