Human Rights Comparative Project

  • April 12, 2018

A searchable database of human rights decisions along with a website filled with helpful information and tools is now available free to lawyers, students and others across Canada, thanks to a grant from the CBA Law for the Future Fund and the work of Lakehead University Bora Laskin Faculty of Law assistant professor Dr. Miriam Cohen.

The purpose of the project, titled A Comparative Analysis of Human Rights in Canada, was to “offer high-quality, relevant and timely treatment of key human rights cases across Canada and draw some comparative analysis of how provinces align or diverge in their decisions on certain rights and freedoms, from legal and policy perspectives.” The project was meant to contribute to access to information on human rights and to foster access to justice.

Dr. Cohen used the LFFF grant to hire students to collect data on human rights laws and decisions across the country, and then to analyze them and prepare plain-language summaries. Dr. Cohen and her students created educational tools to be used to teach human rights and finding other useful resources. Dr. Cohen wrote a scholarly article focusing on a comparative analysis of disability as a ground of discrimination.

Finally, a graduate computer science student was hired to create a searchable database – which Dr. Cohen says works in a way that is similar to Google Scholar, allowing searches of decisions with filters such as province and date – as well as the website on which the database is housed.

“This project has exceeded all my expectations, thanks to the generous funding you have provided,” Dr. Cohen wrote in her final report to the LFFF. “I was able to hire a number of students, train them in human rights law, create a cutting-edge database that is free and user-friendly, thus promoting access to justice and informing all on human rights law across Canada. I drew comparative analyses of human rights in different provinces and territories which I hope can be a positive contribution to foster progressive development in this crucial field. The platform created and the information available can have a positive impact for the development of this area of law.”