Minister Joly announces Canada’s United Nations Human Rights Council candidacy

News release

May 9, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Human rights are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. But human rights are currently under attack, and the multilateral system that underpins these rights is under threat like never before. This is evident in challenges such as Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, rising racism, antisemitism, islamophobia and discrimination and an intensifying backlash against the most basic rights of women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced Canada’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for the 2028 to 2030 term to foster Canada’s work and reaffirm Canada’s leadership in championing human rights around the world.

Canada’s HRC engagement will be guided by the belief that in order to confront the challenges that lie ahead, we must work together to reinforce the foundation of human rights, and strive towards a more just tomorrow for everyone.

Canada’s candidacy will be based on 6 priorities:

  • Seeking justice and accountability for those on the frontlines of defending human rights
  • Striving for an inclusive future by championing anti-racism, freedom of religion or belief
  • Advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples and reconciliation
  • Advancing gender equality, including the rights of women and girls, 2SLGBTQI+ rights and sexual health and reproductive rights
  • Protecting and defending human rights online
  • Responding justly to climate change

Canada’s engagement at the Council is premised on the desire to strengthen the international human rights system. In the coming years, Canada will continue to advance human rights and deliver results by improving equity and justice for people at home and around the world.


“Canada was instrumental in the establishment of the Council under the leadership of Louise Arbour, a great Canadian. It is time that we return there as a member, and continue to demonstrate our support for the multilateral system, and the values that underpin it. We approach this goal with ambition, but also humility. And, while we continue to work to address our own challenges, we will remain a champion for human rights around the world.”

- Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Human rights are a value that Canadians hold at their core, here at home and around the world. This is mirrored in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which takes a human rights-based approach aimed at empowering the most marginalized. For this reason, I am pleased to join my colleagues in announcing our candidacy for the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

- Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

‘‘Canada believes in working for a better tomorrow for everyone, not just some. With the rise in racism, discrimination, sexism, and hate against 2SLGBTQI+ people across the globe - Canada is ready to become a member of the Council, while continuing to advance fundamental human rights at home and around the world.’’

- Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

“Canada continues to work with Indigenous Peoples to advance reconciliation and address colonial legacies that impact Indigenous communities to this day. Work remains, but we have learned and - with humility - accomplished a significant amount. It’s this dedication and understanding that I know Canada would represent the rights and perspective of Indigenous Peoples on the Council. For far too long, Indigenous Peoples have been denied the most basic of rights and have been ignored - it is high time to make their voices heard in Canada and internationally.”

- Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is the primary multilateral body that convenes regularly to address human rights issues and provides a platform for civil society engagement.

  • The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UN General Assembly.

  • Canada actively participates on the HRC as a non-member. Canada last held an elected seat on the HRC during the inaugural term of 2006 –to 2009.

Associated links


Adrien Blanchard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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