AuthorMark Freeman, Gibran Van Ert
The last fifty years have witnessed the development of a global system
of human rights promotion and protection. Canada has played a signif-
icant role in its growth and there is every indication it will continue to
do so. Canada has ratified and implemented most major international
human rights treaties and actively participates in most multilateral
human rights institutions. We might say that human rights have
become part of the Canadian identity.
It is surprising, then, that a comprehensive, textbook-style account
of international human rights law has never before been undertaken
for a Canadian audience. This book is our attempt to meet this need
and, in doing so, to encourage greater understanding and use of inter-
national human rights law by Canadian litigants, lawyers, and judges.
We have not, however, written this book with the Canadian legal audi-
ence exclusively in mind. To the contrary, we have made a conscious
effort to reach non-Canadian and non-legal audiences too.
International human rights law is a vast field whose borders are not
always clear. In recognition of this, we have included brief but (we
hope) helpful discussions of four areas of international law closely
related to human rights: international labour, refugee, humanitarian,
and criminal law. There are still more human rights-related topics we
were forced to exclude. We have not, for instance, appraised the social
or legal history of human rights in Canada. Nor have we examined
such topics as conflict prevention, disarmament, global trade, and eco-
nomic development. We hope the strengths of what we have included
will outweigh the book’s inevitable limitations.
We have organized the book into three parts. The first part intro-
duces the international law of human rights — its history, its theoretical
underpinnings, and its requirements. The second part describes the
reception of international human rights law in Canada, including gener-
al reception rules and the reception of specific human rights norms into
Canadian law. The third part examines the main Canadian and multilat-

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