Scholars from around the world, including UAlberta Law Visiting Assistant Professor Ireh Iyioha, gathered on December 8-10, 2016 at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto for a conference on Canadian/Anglophone African Human Rights Engagements: A Critical Assessment of the Literature and a Research Agenda. The objective for the conference was to connect Canadian and Anglophone African scholars, students, and practitioners whose work focuses on understanding the various elements of Canadian/Anglophone African human rights engagements to begin to close a gap in scholarly and policy knowledge on the subject. Iyioha is a member of a select team of 25 local and international scholars invited to work on closing this gap.
Iyioha’s contribution to the conference was a presentation entitled “Women’s Health Rights in Canadian-Anglophone African Human Rights Engagement: Normativity, Indigeneity and the Spaces Beyond the Norm Life Cycle.” In her presentation, Iyioha examined Canadian-Anglophone African human rights engagement in the area of women’s health, whether conducted by the Canadian government or civil society organizations.
Describing Canada’s human rights engagement in Anglophone Africa (and vice versa) as “micro-level” efforts aimed at full-scale “internalization” of human rights norms, Iyioha suggests that these efforts are/can be significantly constrained by normative diversities in target regions where these efforts are directed and, therefore, must be conducted with recognition of population dynamics. Iyioha further explored ways in which Canada can gain transcultural knowledge from its role in the region as a human rights norm leader toward achieving better understanding of the broad, yet related, population dynamics at play among its own Indigenous peoples, and toward meeting its human rights obligations to Aboriginal women and children. Grounded in empirical evidence from policy and practice, Iyioha’s paper, as well as the overall scholarly conversations that occurred at the conference and the deliverables resulting from it, will have significant implications for policy and practice in Canada and beyond.
Funding for the conference was provided in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Osgoode Hall Law School, and the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security.