Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Monday urged countries to uphold women’s rights and access to abortion, while Canada announced imminent sanctions against Iranian officials over the death of a young woman who was detained by morality police. from the country.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly as the global gathering draws to a close, Joly outlined Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations, including calling for more multilateral solutions to problems such as climate change and sexual violence.
Canada is part of “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “reject these growing attacks on women’s rights and freedoms,” she told the assembly in French on Monday.
“The sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls are being reversed or denied in too many countries,” Joly said in English.
“Canada will always defend your right to choose.”
Although Joly did not mention the United States in this section of her speech, her comments come after months of backlash to the US Supreme Court decision allowing states to ban abortions, with some seeking to prosecute women. who help people terminate their pregnancies in other jurisdictions.
“We will speak for their rights and dignity. No government, no policy, no judge, no one can take that away from them,” Joly said, drawing applause.
Joly’s comments mentioned women targeted by autocratic governments, such as the Taliban preventing Afghan girls from attending school. She called out the Myanmar military junta that jails women democracy activists and sexually assaults Rohingya women.
The speech also cited Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini when morality police arrested her for “improper dress” for allegedly wearing a hijab inappropriately.
At a news conference Monday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is sanctioning dozens of Iranians as a result, including morality police.
“We have seen Iran disregard human rights time and time again,” Trudeau said.
“To the women in Iran who are protesting and those who are supporting them: we stand with you.”
Joly’s office was unable to provide a list Monday of who will be sanctioned by Canada.
“We will be able to provide more details on these sanctions in due course,” spokesman Adrien Blanchard wrote.
The Conservatives have called on the Liberals to heed a motion passed by Parliament in 2018 to consider Iran’s political police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist group. Only the underground branch of the force has that designation.
On Monday, Joly also pointed out that Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence in Russia’s current occupation.
He argued that deliberate political choices are resulting in increased violence against women, who are excluded from “the bargaining table, the boardroom, the classroom.”
His speech also denounced the “abusive” use of veto powers by permanent members of the UN Security Council, such as Russia and China.
He said countries should be deterred from violating human rights, particularly after a UN report found that China may have committed crimes against humanity in its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs.
“Those who break the law must be confronted with the force of the law. A permanent seat on the Security Council is not a license to kill, or to silence anyone, and should never guarantee impunity,” Joly said.
He also said Canada would support “fair and equitable reform” of global financial institutions so they can better help developing countries respond to crises.
In Joly’s view, countries need to work more together to navigate the economic, political and environmental turmoil.
“There are no simple solutions to the challenges we face. But it is obvious that isolating yourself, ignoring the rule of law and silencing people is contrary to progress.”