To strengthen democracy and promote human rights in developing countries by enhancing the capacity of civil society to influence political processes, by helping to build democratic institutions, and by strengthening the rule of law. Rights & Democracy programming reinforces the link between human rights and democratic development, and supports the implementation of human rights norms. It advocates for the universality of human rights, and promotes accountability when these rights are denied or undermined.
1. Democratic Development: To promote democratic development and practices through human rights, with particular emphasis on strengthening the participation of citizens in processes that enhance their rights; to augment the capacity of state institutions to protect and promote rights.
2. Economic and Social Rights: To help reduce the gap between human rights in principle or law and human rights as enjoyed by the most vulnerable and excluded sectors of society, especially those living in poverty; particular emphasis is placed on the consequences of foreign investment, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
3. Women’s Rights: To reinforce the leadership and capacity of women’s rights activists to deal with the effects of militarisation and fundamentalisms. To condemn crimes and violence against women during armed conflicts and support investigations and legal processes to obtain justice. To promote the integration of gender-specific mechanisms in transitional justice.
4. Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: To contribute to the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights. To facilitate the use of international instruments by indigenous organizations to defend their rights. To enhance the participation of indigenous women in political processes by strengthening their organizations and training their leaders.
5. Youth Engagement: To support and encourage – principally through the Student Network within Canadian universities – the participation of youth in the promotion and protection of human rights and democratic development, and to give them opportunities and training to pursue activities in these domains. To host interns and to facilitate their placement within human rights organizations.
6. International and Regional Instruments: To reinforce international and regional human rights mechanisms within the UN, the Organization of American States and the African Union, and to support civil society participation in such mechanisms. To provide training and support to civil society organizations on the Universal Periodic Review, and to encourage their participation in this process.
7. Public Engagement in Canada: To promote within Canada issues and activities related to human rights and democratic development in the global South, to give visibility to outstanding defenders of human rights and democracy, particularly through the John Humphrey Freedom Award, and to educate the Canadian public on topics related to the mandate of Rights & Democracy.
8. Rapid Response Mechanisms: To respond quickly to unforeseen crises and to intervene in critical situations when these arise. To seize important opportunities, especially during periods of change and transition, and to support partners when they face unexpected difficulties.