41st Parliament, 2nd Session (October 16, 2013 - August 2, 2015) Current Session
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 2nd Session of the 41st 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 composed of seven (7) members or associate members of which four (4) shall be government members, two (2) shall be New Democratic Party members, and one (1) from the Liberal Party, to be named following the usual consultations with the Whips;

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.

The general powers of House of Commons Standing Committees such as the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development can be found in the Compendium of House of Commons Procedure. The Subcommittee has all of the powers of the Standing Committee except the power to report to the House of Commons.

In the course of its studies, the Subcommittee may request the appearance of officials from different government departments. Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development regularly 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, development assistance programming and foreign policy regarding the promotion of respect for human rights. In the past, officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage have appeared when the Subcommittee has examined Canada’s reporting to the United Nations regarding this country’s ratification and implementation of international human rights instruments. 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.