International Human Rights Treaty Adherence Process in Canada

Under international law, a state may agree to be legally bound (“adhere”) to an international human rights treaty through signature and ratification or through accession.

When a state signs a treaty, it agrees to refrain from acts  which would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, even though the state is not yet legally bound by the specific terms of the treaty. Signature of an international human rights treaty also creates an expectation that the state will eventually ratify the treaty.

When a state subsequently ratifies a treaty, it formally commits itself to implement the provisions of the treaty.

Accession has the same effect as ratification. It differs only in that it does not require signature or any other prior step.

The federal process for adherence to any international human rights treaty generally involves the following steps: