International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development

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The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development - now known as Rights & Democracy, was established by an act of the Canadian parliament in 1988 to "encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world."[1]

Despite being the Candadian equivalent of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), few people seem to be aware of the problems associated with their work. Thus even the progressive website Global Research - which regularly carries critiques of the NED - has reposted Rights and Democracy press releases on their website. [2]


A non-profit charitable organization "promoting democracy" worldwide.

According to their website:

Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) is a non-partisan organization with an international mandate. It was created by Canada's Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world. (View the Act of Parliament to establish the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development)
Rights & Democracy works with individuals, organizations and governments in Canada and abroad to promote the human and democratic rights defined in the United Nations' International Bill of Human Rights. Although its mandate is wide-ranging, Rights & Democracy currently focuses on four themes: democratic development, women's human rights, globalization and human rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples. It also has two special operations: Urgent Action/Important Opportunities, to respond to human rights crises and seize important opportunities as they arise, and International Human Rights Advocacy, to enhance the work of human rights advocates, in Canada and internationally, in the effective use of regional and international human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and regional human rights systems.
Rights & Democracy enjoys partnerships with human rights, indigenous peoples' and women's rights groups, as well as democratic movements and governments around the world with whom it cooperates to promote human rights and democracy. It is therefore uniquely placed to facilitate dialogue between government officials and non-governmental organizations in Canada and abroad. It is one of the very few organizations with the necessary credibility on both sides to play this bridge-building role.
It initiates and supports projects that advocate the protection of human rights and the strengthening of democratic development and facilitates the capacity of its partners to do the same. [3]


Professor James M. Scott notes that:

"The Canadian government finances the center, whose annual budget during the 1990s was about $35 million, and its board of directors submits an annual report to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the parliament." (p.195) (Source: "Political Foundations and Think Tanks" in Peter Schraeder's "Exporting democracy: rhetoric vs. reality"

In 2004, their total outgoings came to §6 million 2004-2005 Annual Report. According to their website:

Rights & Democracy receives the majority of its funding from Canada's Overseas Development Assistance Budget through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The financial year runs from April 1 to March 31 of the following year. Each year, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors submits a report on Rights & Democracy's activities to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who tables it in Parliament. The financial accounts and transactions are examined annually by the Auditor General of Canada. Rights & Democracy has consultative status (Category II) with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is on the International Labour Organization's Special List of NGOs. It also has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. It is a non-profit charitable organization (registration number 0808345-59). Donations are tax deductible. [4]

"Promoting democracy"

The International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development is similar in nature to the National Endowment for Democracy. William Robinson (1996) suggests that such organizations are involved in "the promotion of polyarchy as a transnational project reflecting globalization" (Robinson, 1996, p. 363)

"This process is taking place through the development at two distinct levels of transnational mechanisms for promoting and instutionalizing a polyarchic global political system. The first level is that of other Northern countries. These countries have set up their own government-linked "democracy promotion" agencies and launched programs to intervene in the political systems and civil societies of the Third World, in coordination with US programs. By the early 1990s: the British government had established a quasi-private foundation similar to the NED, the Westminster Foundation; the Canadian government had established a similar International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development; Sweden, Japan, and France were expected to develop their own foundations; and several German foundations which have been active in limited "political aid" programs overseas since the 1970s, began to expand these programs and to coordinate them with the NED." (Robinson, 1996, p. 364)

In 2006, Yves Engler noted that:

"In September 2003, Rights and Democracy... formerly headed by the NDP's Ed Broadbent, released a report on Haiti. The report called Haiti's pro - coup Group of 184 "grassroots" and a "promising civil sciety movement" even though it was funded by the International Republican Institute and headed by the country's leading sweatshop owner, Andy Apaid, who had been active in right-wing Haitian politics for many years." [4]

Underminining Palestinian human rights organizations

In January 2010, Aurel Braun, the Chairman of Rights & Democracy criticized two of the leading Palestinian human rights organizations, Al-Haq and Al-Mezan. Braun stated that both organizations were "the most vitriolic anti-Israeli organizations" and for "their accusations against Israel's human rights violations." Further, Braun also said that "there is no way to ensure that some of the money given to groups in Gaza does not go to the banned terrorist organization Hamas." Braun also led a personal attack against Al-Haq's general director -- the well-known human rights defender Mr. Shawan Jabarin -- for allegedly being an activist in a PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] faction.[5]

Organizations active in elections and democracy


Professor Wayne Mackay was appointed Vice Chair in 2003

International members:

Canadian members

Directed by Jean-Louis Roy since August 2002 (by Warren Allmand from 1997 to 2002 and by Edward Broadbent from 1989 to 1996), Rights & Democracy is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, named by the Governor-in-Council. Three members of the Board are from developing countries. Distinguished advocates of human rights, such as Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias from Costa Rica, Asma Jahangir from Pakistan, Cecilia Medina from Chile, and Kamal Hossain from Bangladesh, have served on the Board. [11]


Full list here

Related SourceWatch articles



Contact details

1001 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East, Suite 1100
Montreal (Quebec) Canada H2L 4P9
Tel: (514) 283-6073
Email: dd-rd AT

External links


  1. [1]
  2. Rights and Democracy, New report finds pervasive violations of human right to food in Haiti, Global Research, October 17, 2008.
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. Canadian organization attacking Palestinian rights groups, Press release signed by many human rights organizations and one Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1 February 2010
  6. Bios of Spokeswomen, Beijng and Beyond, accessed August 17, 2007.