Backgrounder: United Nations Convention Against Torture


Canada has supported accountability and transitional justice initiatives that aim to hold the Assad regime and other parties in the conflict accountable for the countless human rights violations it has inflicted on the Syrian people since at least 2011.

Canada, the Netherlands and the Syrian Arab Republic are amongst 171 States parties to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) that prohibits the use of torture.

On March 3, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that it had invited the Syrian Arab Republic to enter into negotiations pursuant to Article 30 (1) of the UNCAT in order to find a means of addressing Syria’s treaty violations.

These violations also formed the basis of a similar request by the Netherlands in September 2020 and have been well documented by the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, among others. In light of the longstanding dispute with the Assad regime, Canada has agreed to collaborate closely with the Netherlands as Parties UNCAT.

Article 30 of the Convention Against Torture

Article 30 (1) of the UNCAT provides signatory countries a three phase dispute settlement process. This involves States’ attempt to resolving the dispute first through negotiation and then arbitration. If this does not resolve the dispute, either party can then refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) under the Convention.

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