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8 Jul 2015

Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press

UN Human Rights Committee "shocked" by Canada's denial to hold companies accountable for abuses committed abroad

"Canada clashes with UN rights panel over resource company behaviour abroad" 8 Jul 2015

The federal government clashed with a United Nations panel this week over whether a major international treaty applies to potential human rights violations by Canadian resources companies operating abroad...The sharp difference of opinion was one of several flashpoints between Canada and the UN Human Rights Committee...In its written answers, Canada said it "strongly encourages" companies to implement corporate social responsibility...But the committee pressed for more details on that and other subjects during the in-person appearance by the Canadian delegation...In their testimony, the delegation appeared to shock the sensibilities of the 18-member committee when it evoked the principle of "extra-territoriality" for the employees of the 800 Canadian companies operating in Latin America, Africa and Asia...That means that in the government's view the treaty applies to Canadians in Canada, but not those working in foreign countries...The Canadian delegation pressed the issue saying, "individuals affected by the operation of Canadian companies abroad were thus not necessarily under Canadian jurisdiction." But the head of the committee appeared to differ. "The final arbiter for the interpreting the Covenant was the Committee, not individual States,"...