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The Canadian National Committee for Humanitarian Law (CNCHL)

CNCHL Members

The Canadian National Committee for Humanitarian Law (CNCHL) was established on March 18, 1998 following a recommendation of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and pursuant to an a Memorandum of Understanding.

The CNCHL includes representatives from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Justice, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Solicitor General of Canada as represented by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Red Cross Society.

The mandate of the CNCHL is to facilitate the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Canada, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols. The major functions of the Committee include:

  • considering and, where appropriate, recommending the ratification of legal instruments pertaining to IHL;
  • coordinating the implementation of IHL obligations;
  • providing advice on IHL dissemination and training in Canada;
  • coordinating and stimulating the actions of governmental departments and other relevant organizations to strengthen compliance with and enhance the dissemination of IHL;
  • examining and, when appropriate, recommending measures to promote the national implementation of IHL in the domestic law in other countries drawing on the resources and expertise available in Canada; and
  • maintaining an updated list of experts in IHL and sharing information on IHL with other national committees, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

For the complete text of Terms of Reference, please click here.

CNCHL Members

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
CIDA supports sustainable development in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. Working with partners in the private and public sectors in Canada and in developing countries, CIDA supports foreign aid projects in more than 100 of the poorest countries of the world. The objective is to work with developing countries and countries in transition and to assist them in the development and acquisition of the tools and skills they require to eventually meet their own needs.

Royal Canadian Mounted police (RCMP)
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the Canadian national police service and an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. Its role is unique in the world since it is a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. RCMP provides a total federal policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec), approximately 198 municipalities and, under 172 individual agreements, to 192 First Nations communities.

Department of National Defense
The mission of the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Forces is to defend Canada, its interests and its values, while contributing to international peace and security.

Under Canadian defence policy, the Canadian Forces are called upon to fill three major roles:

  • Protecting Canada
  • Defending North America in co-operation with the United States of America
  • Contributing to peace and international security.

Department of Foreign Affairs
The Department of Foreign Affairs represents Canada abroad through a network of embassies and offices around the world. Its objectives are to promote prosperity, ensure Canadians' security within a global framework, and promote Canadian values and culture on the international stage.

Department of Justice
The Department of Justice works to ensure that Canadians enjoy a justice system that is fair, accessible and efficient. It helps the federal government to develop policy and to make and reform laws as needed. At the same time, it also serve Canadians by acting as the Government's law firm. It's responsibilities reflect the double role of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney General of Canada: while the Minister is concerned with questions of policy and their relation to the justice system, the Attorney General is the chief law officer of the Crown.

The Canadian Red Cross
The Canadian Red Cross is the Canadian leading humanitarian organization with a mission to improve the lives of vulnerable people immediately, wherever they are, whatever their race, political beliefs, religion, social status, or culture. All Red Cross programs and activities are guided by the Fundamental Principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

The Canadian Red Cross serves as the Secretariat for the CNCHL. It also facilitates exchanges between the CNCHL and the ICRC.


The CNCHL is a forum for sharing information and discussing recent developments in IHL. All members participate actively in IHL. dissemination activities on a proactive basis. Ongoing exchanges are taking place between CNCHL members on their respective IHL related activities, while identifying different needs for decision-makers interdepartmentally.

The CNCHL and its Working Group members participate regularly in national and international outreach programmes. In March 2002, representatives of the Canadian NCHL attended the First World Conference of National Committees on International Humanitarian Law held in Geneva. In addition, Canada provided financial support for the participation of a number of NCHL delegations from Latin America and the Caribbean. Further financial support was provided by Canada for a 2003 meeting of the NCHL of the Americas. The Conference, organized by the ICRC and the Organization of American States , took place in Guatemala from August 27th to 29th 2003.

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