CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Robert Matthews and Cranford Pratt

Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1988. 388pp, paper, ISBN 0-7735-0667-5 (cloth) $37.95, 0-7735-0683-7 (paper) $15.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Janet Tomkins.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

This comprehensive work examines the role of human rights in Canadian foreign policy, focusing primarily on characteristics and developments since the 1960s. Edited by two members of the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, it includes contributions from both academics and human rights activists.

A broad spectrum of human rights concerns is acknowledged - civil and political, as well as economic and social - but the focus is on what are defined as basic rights, or those rights without which no other rights can be enjoyed. These include basic subsistence, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, freedom from torture, and freedom from extrajudicial execution.

Part one considers domestic influences on the role of human rights in Canadian foreign policy, while part two focuses on Canadian action on human rights at various international forums. Finally, part three examines the role of human rights in Canadian bilateral diplomacy.

A number of important and difficult questions relating to human rights issues are identified. For example, do attempts by Canada and other countries to influence offending regimes contravene the principle of respect for sovereignty? Should development assistance be linked to the human rights record in recipient countries?

This is 9 broad-ranging, thorough and careful treatment of a complex subject. It will be a valuable acquisition for academic and large public libraries. Senior high school students may also find the book useful, although they will be considerably challenged by its scope and detail.

Janet Tomkins, Fraser Valley Regional Library, Chilliwack, B.C.
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