Framework for International Development

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), as part of the criminal justice system and respecting the rule of law, contributes to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control.

CSC is a key contributor to public safety in Canada. It achieves its mandate in three distinct ways: the custody of offenders serving sentences of two years or more; the provision of programs and other interventions; and the supervision of offenders conditionally released into the community.

Recent trends indicate that the profile of the offender population has become more diverse and complex. To respond to this challenge and improve public safety, CSC is concentrating its efforts on five strategic priorities:

  • Safe transition of offenders to the community
  • Safety and security for staff and offenders in institutions
  • Enhanced capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit offenders
  • Improved capacities to address the mental health needs of offenders, and
  • Strengthening management practices

CSC also contributes, when appropriate, to advancing broader Government objectives including international activities. CSC's international involvement, whether through membership or participation in international activities, staff exchanges, or hosting study visits, has contributed to continuous improvement in CSC management and practices and as a result Canada is highly regarded internationally in terms of its federal correctional approach and operations.

It is in this context that this Framework seeks to focus and align CSC's international engagement. It should be noted that the Commissioner is the sole approving authority for any international engagement activity.

Canadian Foreign Policy

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) [now the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)] is responsible for setting Canada's direction internationally and has identified several strategic priorities in its 2006 Report on Priorities and Plans which directly affect CSC, including:

  • A more secure world for Canada and Canadians
  • Greater collaboration with the United States
  • A revitalized multilateralism, and
  • Greater engagement with global partners

DFATD also plays a key part in Canada's international presence, as the primary conduit for development assistance.

Criminal Justice Partners

Although there are many agencies and organizations involved in public safety, the three major influences in the domestic security sector are police, courts, and corrections. Consequently, CSC works in partnership with its portfolio agencies, specifically the National Parole Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canadian Border Services Agency. CSC could not meet its mandate without its partnerships with the many community non-governmental organizations. CSC also works closely with the Departments of Justice.

CSC International Objectives

In the context of the CSC's Mission and contribution to broader government objectives, the Service has two primary goals in relation to international engagement:

  • To strengthen effective correctional practices through international relationships and information exchange.
  • To support Canadian foreign policy objectives which promote the rule of law, respect for human rights and international development.

The Service's international operations rest on these two pillars, however, it is important to remember that the CSC mandate is primarily domestic in nature. As a result, CSC international engagement will focus its efforts and activities on contributing to CSC's five strategic priorities.

Strengthened Correctional Practice

Key Bilateral Mechanisms

The Service recognizes the importance of sharing information and learning from one another and utilizes several different mechanisms in order to strengthen correctional practice. These include study visits to Canada by official delegations, study visits by CSC to other jurisdictions, participation in professional programs and events, and technical assistance and cooperation.

Study Visits

CSC is frequently sought out as destination for visitors who wish to become better informed about our correctional approach and operations, or who wish to study a particular aspect of CSC in relation to their domestic operations. In these cases, CSC supports only official visits on behalf of another correctional or justice related institution. As a result of privacy considerations and due to the operational impact of visits, CSC is not in a position to support visits without a clearly defined program and purpose, and the Service does not give access to visitors from other countries who are in Canada in their private capacity.

Similarly, visitors who are in Canada under the terms of a fellowship or other type of study award may not be supported by the Service. Requests from students and professionals for work or study placements to enhance their personal professional skills will be supported only following consultation with the Human Resources Sector.

Participation in Professional Programs

In order to keep apprised of and contribute to developments in correctional practice, research and management, CSC will continue to share and benefit from the experience and expertise in other jurisdictions by participating in credible international events that are directly related to the five strategic priorities.

The Commissioner must approve participation in international activities. Documentation concerning travel approvals must be forwarded to the Policy and Research Sector for review and recommendation to the Commissioner. Documentation requirements include details of the event (such as conference programs) which includes dates, locations, and the nature of the event; a letter of invitation if applicable; an outline of the costs and budget centre responsible; and the recommendation of the relevant Executive Committee member.

Any CSC official who travels outside of Canada must submit a full report of their trip, with particular emphasis on lessons learned in relation to CSC's priorities. These reports will be shared with relevant sectors and regions upon review.

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

As the result of the CSC's international reputation, CSC receives regular requests from other nations for technical assistance and cooperation. Such requests can be focused on a relatively limited topic, or can be quite general in nature. The duration of such activities can range from several days or weeks to years.

Following definition of the scope and requirements of a request for technical assistance, preliminary discussions are held with NHQ Sectors as to the feasibility of the project, including the availability and releasability of appropriate CSC staff. Throughout the process, consultations will be ongoing with DFATD as appropriate, including consideration of funding since the Service is neither mandated nor resourced for such activities.

Decisions as to involvement in technical assistance and cooperation projects are made by the Commissioner. Considerations include:

  • Feasibility - Can CSC sustain the effort?
  • Conditionality - Are partners identified and able to assist?
  • Sustainability - Will this result in sustainable capacity in the host system?
  • CSC Objectives and Priorities - How does this relate to CSC strategic priorities?
  • Foreign Policy - To what extent does this activity support the national interest?

Key Multilateral Mechanisms

CSC actively participates in a number of international organizations that can assist CSC with one or more of its strategic priorities. These agencies include:

The International Roundtable for Correctional Excellence (IRCE)

The IRCE is a forum for chief executives of like-minded jurisdictions for in-depth exchange on the most pressing matters of correctional concern, many of which are directly linked to CSC's priorities. Semi-annual meetings are attended by the Commissioner with support by International Relations.

International Centre for Criminal Law Reform (ICCLR)

The Service partners with the ICCLR Corrections Program to facilitate international cooperation and exchange, identify opportunities for collaborative resource mobilization, disseminate research information and reports, and contribute to the activities of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Justice Canada and PSEPC are also key partners with the Centre. CSC's engagement with the Centre includes a contribution agreement to support the Centre's Corrections Program. CSC plays an active role by providing appropriate expertise in the Center's "China Program" which is funded by DFATD.

American Correctional Association (ACA)

One of the oldest correctional non-governmental organizations, and with a long history of cooperation with Canada, the ACA provides a unique opportunity to engage with US partners at all levels of the governmental and non-governmental justice sector. CSC now participates in the ACA sub-committees that are relevant to CSC's priorities, including Mental Health, Substance Abuse sub committees and ACA's Program Council.

Asia Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA)

Founded at the initiative of CSC more than 30 years ago, APCCA is the only organization of its kind which provides a forum for cooperation and information exchange concerning correctional practice in Asian and Pacific Rim nations. CSC is a member of the Board of Directors. Meetings provide opportunities for CSC to exchange information on strategic priorities, best practices and emerging correctional developments with Asian and Pacific Rim countries.

Other Multilateral Mechanisms

The Service also participates in other multilateral organizations on an ad hoc basis dependent on activities relevant to CSC's priorities and where the government has identified an ongoing national interest. CSC will continue to keep a watching brief on these organizations to identify any opportunities that could be beneficial to the organization. Such organizations include:

Council of Europe (CoE)

As an observer state, Canada has access to Council of Europe fora. On occasion, CSC has been invited to attend individual meetings or consultative working groups in order to lend professional expertise. An example of engagement which benefited CSC was participation on the Council's committee to consider issues related to long term offenders.

Organization of American States (OAS)

As the major hemispheric intergovernmental organization, the OAS plays an important role in advancing justice issues in general. OAS Attorneys General have mandated an official group to work on prisons policy, and Canada is seen as a valuable member of that group and was instrumental in supporting other nations wishing to focus proceedings on the rule of law and respect for international standards of human rights as they affect corrections. The Canadian government committed to actively participate in OAS efforts to address drug-related issues and through PSEPC coordination, CSC has lead two projects in this area under the auspices of CICAD (Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission).

United Nations (UN)

CSC continues to work closely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) which has become increasingly involved in post-conflict justice issues. CSC has actively supported a number of UN Missions in the past (e.g., Kosovo) and is currently involved in the UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire and Afghanistan.

Other Organizations

CSC participates on an ad hoc basis with a number of other organizations, such as the International Corrections and Prisons Association for the Advancement of Professional Corrections (ICPA), the International Community Corrections Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the American Probation and Parole Association, and so forth. CSC participates in these organizations when appropriate.

Supporting Canadian Foreign Policy

CSC supports Canada's role in multilateral organizations, as noted above through its participation in the UN, OAS and CoE. The Service also engages in other international activity, when appropriate, with DFATD. This means that the Service is included in relevant whole-of-government initiatives with key emerging and developing nations.

The Service is also involved, sometimes as a key correspondent, with the Canadian response to international legal obligations. At the operational level, this requires that CSC maintain a robust capacity for the international transfer of offenders in accordance with its treaty obligations. Corporately, the Service must maintain continued awareness of the workings of international organizations, and be prepared to work closely with DFATD in responding to such organizations as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Finally, DFATD.'s focus on global issues includes a mandate to support the maintenance of peace and the prevention of violent conflict. This is done through a variety of mechanisms, including collective security and defence arrangements, human security programming, human rights promotion and peace building activities.

Building and operating a justice system which includes corrections that respects the rule of law and is responsive to international standards of human rights is increasingly recognized as a key ingredient to build stability and further democratic reform. CSC works closely with DFATD as a potential contributor to missions aimed to assist fragile states, including peacekeeping initiatives. CSC is actively contributing to Canada's involvement with NATO in Afghanistan.


This Framework seeks to ensure CSC international efforts and activities are more directly linked to CSC's strategic priorities and that CSC continues to have the capacity to contribute to Canadian foreign policy objectives. CSC is generally recognized as one of the leading correctional services in the world, and as a result it is likely that requests for CSC engagement will continue.

In this environment, and in concert with CSC's mandate as a key public safety agency, decision-making will continue to take into account the following considerations:

  • The potential to contribute to CSC's priorities;
  • The opportunity to share with and learn from other jurisdictions; and
  • The capacity to contribute to the government international agenda.