What are Human Rights?

We are all born with human rights. Human rights are those needs that everyone is entitled to for a quality of life and well-being. Human rights are afforded to every human being without discrimination just by virtue of being human.

Watch the video below to learn more.  

Human rights are found in international, national and provincial legislation, which helped to define and influence the University of Alberta’s human rights policy entitled the Discrimination, Harassment and Duty to Accommodate Policy.

Where do they comes from?

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (commonly referred to as the Declaration) was passed in 1948, which in 30 articles outlines the basis for all human rights law. The Declaration and its core values, including non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always.

The Declaration was one of the first major achievements of the United Nations and provided the basic philosophy for many legally-binding international and national human rights instruments to follow. These other human rights instruments include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979),Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). Canada is a party to all seven of the covenants and conventions named.

In Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms represents our country’s approach to implementing the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration. 

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms 

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (commonly referred to as the Charter) came into force on April 17, 1982. It is part of the Canadian Constitution. It guarantees broad equality rights and other fundamental human rights and freedoms. The Charter applies to dealings between an individual or group and the federal, provincial and municipal government and their related agencies. It recognizes fundamental freedoms (e.g. freedom of expression and of association), democratic rights (e.g. the right to vote), mobility rights (e.g. the right to live anywhere in Canada), legal rights (e.g. the right to life, liberty and security of the person) and equality rights, and recognizes the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act governs federally regulated employers and service providers and created the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which continues to addresses “discriminatory practices” based on the following grounds which are prohibited by the Act: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or a conviction for which you have been granted a pardon.

If discrimination based on one of the protected grounds covered in the Act has negatively affected you, then you may file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. 

Before you do so, if this issue(s) occurred at the University of Alberta then contact the Office of Safe Disclosure & Human Rights to see if there other avenues for resolving your concern.

Alberta Human Rights Act

Updated in 2009, the Alberta Human Rights Act recognizes the equality of all Albertans and establishes the Alberta Human Rights Commission.  This is an independent commission created by the Government of Alberta, which reports to the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General.

The Commission's mandate is to foster equality and to reduce discrimination. It fulfills this mandate through public education and community initiatives, through the resolution and settlement of complaints of discrimination, and through the human rights tribunal and court hearings.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission complaint process is similar to that of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and a diagram of the process can be found here.  

Your concern must pertain to discrimination that has occurred in any of the five areas governed by the Act and must be based on any of the 13 protected grounds listed in the Act.  A chart description of these can be found here

Before you do so, if this issue(s) occurred at the University of Alberta then contact the Office of Safe Disclosure & Human Rights to see if there other avenues for resolving your concern.

Human Rights at the University of Alberta

In May 2012, the University of Alberta’s Board of Governors passed a revised Discrimination, Harassment and Duty to Accommodate Policy, which serves as the University of Alberta's human rights policy. It is based on the Alberta Human Rights Act. The purpose of this policy is to foster and protect a respectful environment for work, study, and living that supports the dignity and equality of all members of the University of Alberta.

More detailed information on human rights at the University of Alberta can be found on other parts of this website including human rights definitions and processes for dealing with an alleged human rights complaint (e.g. harassment or discrimination).

Note: Information on this page about the Universal Declaration, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian Human Rights Act and Alberta Human Rights Act has adapted from the following websites: John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rightsthe United NationsCanada Heritage and the Alberta Human Rights Commission.