Canada recently sent two Senior Counsel from the Department of Justice to take part in a government-to-government training program on human rights. The program focuses on Canada’s experience implementing United Nations human rights covenants – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Legal specialists Ms. Erin Brady and Ms. Laurie Sargent provided 3-day training to 300 Taiwan Ministry of Justice prosecutors, lawyers and senior officials, as well as officials from other government departments and municipal governments. Over the three days, Taiwanese officials learned about tools to continue implementing International Human Rights Covenants through amending laws and public policy, and how to train public servants to take the covenants into account in their daily work.
In her opening remarks at the training, the Canadian Trade Office’s Executive Director Kathleen Mackay said, “The implementation of human rights is a continuous process. Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. We value the tools we can use to safeguard our people’s rights. And we are committed to the continual betterment of society, and to helping others, in governments and the non-governmental sector, to use these tools to continue to improve the welfare of our societies.”
Justice Canada’s Senior Counsel also shared their expertise with key stakeholders beyond the training sessions. For example, they met with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Rights who advise Taiwan’s President on the adoption and implementation of international laws and covenants and recently published Taiwan’s first Human Rights Report. They also offered a seminar with NGO’s on the equality rights of persons with disabilities in the employment context and a lecture at Fu Jen University on equality rights.
Since adopting the covenants in 2009, implementing the covenants has been a priority for Taiwan’s President Ma, its Ministry of Justice, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Rights and Taiwan’s active community of human rights NGOs and scholars.
This training program builds on over two years of related projects, including a week-long mini-course on Canada’s human rights system by Dr. Bill Black and a training session at the Judge and Prosecutors Training Institute with Ms. Magda Seydegart in 2010, a speech by University of Ottawa President Alan Rock on the protection of human rights at a high-level conference in 2011, and sponsorship by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei of the world’s first ever human rights journal in the Chinese speaking world.
“We will continue to work together with Taiwan to provide the knowledge tools needed to be successful,” said Executive Director Kathleen Mackay.
The training sessions were also recorded with Chinese interpretation so that Taiwanese officials can use them for future training across the spectrum of Taiwan’s government.