The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development studies and reports on matters referred to it by its parent committee or on topics Subcommittee members choose to examine. As a subcommittee, it is created by – and reports to – the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. A motion to create the Subcommittee must be adopted in every parliamentary session as there is no specific provision for it in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Therefore, the motion creating the Subcommittee and, in turn, its mandate, can be changed by the parent committee in every session. The motion creating the Subcommittee in the 1st Session of the 43rd Parliament was as follows:
it was agreed, — That, pursuant to Standing Orders 108(1) and 108(2), a Subcommittee on International Human Rights to be chaired by a member elected by the subcommittee, be established to inquire into matters relating to the promotion of respect for international human rights, as may be referred to it by the committee;
That, the subcommittee be chaired by a member of the government and be composed of eight members or associate members of which four shall be government members, two shall be from the Conservative Party, one from the Bloc Québécois and one from the New Democratic Party, to be named following the usual consultations with the Whips;
That, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development be granted the authority to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them, pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a).
That, the subcommittee be empowered to send for persons, papers and records, to receive evidence, to sit during a time when the committee is not sitting in Ottawa, to sit when the committee is sitting outside the Parliamentary Precinct and to sit during periods when the House stands adjourned; and
That, the Chair of the subcommittee meet with the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the committee at their mutual discretion.
More information on House of Commons Standing Committees can be found on the Our Commons website. The Subcommittee has all the powers of the of its parent committee except the power to report to the House of Commons. All reports produced by the Subcommittee must be approved and presented to the House by its parent committee.
In the course of its studies, the Subcommittee may request the appearance of officials from different government departments. For example, officials from Global Affairs Canada may appear before the Subcommittee to discuss a country or region that raises specific human rights concerns, or to provide information regarding Canada’s bilateral relations with another country, development assistance programming and foreign policy regarding the promotion of respect for human rights. In addition to government officials, the Subcommittee, like most committees, often hears from witnesses representing civil society, non-governmental organizations and academia.
The Subcommittee does not focus on constitutional or purely domestic human rights issues. In particular, any studies arising from the work of the Canadian Human Rights Commission are referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. However, because there are topics that may relate to the respect for international human rights in Canada, Subcommittee members make their decision to study a topic on a case-by-case basis.
Like a standing committee, the subcommittee is assisted in the execution of its functions by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the Subcommittee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of subcommittee meetings and the publishing of documents on the subcommittee’s website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the subcommittee.Committee Analyst
The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the subcommittee. They are part of the subcommittee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analysis of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence.
The Subcommittee presents reports through its parent committee, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Examples of past reports include: