Right to an Effective Remedy

An overriding obligation under international law, and one implicit in the principle of the rule of law, is to provide effective domestic remedies for violations of human rights.  This obligation applies equally to economic and social rights as to civil and political rights.  While there are some international remedies available for violations of international human rights law (ex. periodic review, complaints procedures, recommendations by mandate holders) Canada cannot, rely solely on international remedies and procedures in respect to the enforcement of socio-economic rights, including those relating to poverty and homelessness.

Judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms should be integrated with effective informal or administrative procedures for claiming and enforcing social rights under legislated housing and poverty reduction strategies.  Judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms must become integrated with effective informal or administrative procedures for claiming and enforcing social rights under legislated housing and poverty reduction strategies.

The Government of Ontario has taken the position that the right to housing and to an adequate standard of living should not generally be amenable to domestic judicial enforcement.   The denial of judicial remedies for violations of economic and social rights is a serious violation of the right to effective remedies.  Where provincial programs deemed to address poverty and homelessness are insufficient or lacking all together, it should be argued that the right to an effective remedy grants standing to those challenging the inadequacy or non-existence of these programs.  For Ontarian’s to have meaningful social rights, these rights must be claimable: they must have the right to challenge a denial of these rights in a forum with the legal authority to order an appropriate remedy if a rights violation is found to have occurred.  

To view international jurisprudence relating to the Right to an effective remedy in Word format click here.

Treaty Provision


Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, art. 8 Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 2(3) Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; 



Declaration Provision


Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights” (art.40)










Concluding Observations:

General Comments:

Other Jurisprudence:

For more context specific observations made by various UN bodies regarding Canada’s performance under various international treaties click here.

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