Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Chilean president, visited Ottawa in mid-June. She met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and, in part, discussed the findings of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the need for a national action plan to move forward with implementation.
Bachelet also participated in a public discussion with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland that was hosted by Ben Rowswell of the Canadian International Council.
Bachelet raised the range of emerging human rights issues, including Agenda 2030, environmental rights, the intersection of technology and human rights, and, of course, gender and LGBTI rights.
Both Bachelet and Freeland spoke strongly of the need to recognize universal rights globally. Freeland said that everyone, everywhere should enjoy the same rights that Canadians have. She also said that there is sometimes the idea that speaking about human rights is somehow not serious or pragmatic, but that is not true.
Bachelet also spoke about new threats to human rights, such as online hate speech, facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technologies and the need to develop a framework in which a human rights approach from the beginning, rather than trying to find solutions after the fact.
Minister Freeland also took the opportunity to officially release Voices at Risk, the long-awaited guidelines for Canadian diplomats on supporting human rights defenders.