|Type||United Nations General Assembly resolution|
|Signed||16 December 1966|
|Location||United Nations Headquarters, New York City|
|Effective||23 March 1976|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Languages||French, English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish|
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976 in accordance with Article 49 of the covenant. Article 49 allowed that the covenant would enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession. The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of September 2019 [update] , the Covenant has 173 parties and six more signatories without ratification. Notable holdouts are People's Republic of China and Cuba. North Korea tried to withdraw.
The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (a separate body to the United Nations Human Rights Council), which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee normally meets in Geneva and normally holds three sessions per year.
The ICCPR has its roots in the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.A "Declaration on the Essential Rights of Man" had been proposed at the 1945 San Francisco Conference which led to the founding of the United Nations, and the Economic and Social Council was given the task of drafting it. Early on in the process, the document was split into a declaration setting forth general principles of human rights, and a convention or covenant containing binding commitments. The former evolved into the UDHR and was adopted on 10 December 1948.
The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
Drafting continued on the convention, but there remained significant differences between UN members on the relative importance of negative Civil and Political versus positive Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.These eventually caused the convention to be split into two separate covenants, "one to contain civil and political rights and the other to contain economic, social and cultural rights." The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously. Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.
The first document became the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the second the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The drafts were presented to the UN General Assembly for discussion in 1954 and adopted in 1966.As a result of diplomatic negotiations the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted shortly before the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Together, the UDHR and the two Covenants are considered to be the foundational human rights texts in the contemporary international system of human rights.
The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and ICESCR, with a preamble and fifty-three articles, divided into six parts.
Part 1 (Article 1) recognizes the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status",pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and dispose of their own resources. It recognises a negative right of a people not to be deprived of its means of subsistence, and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.
Part 2 (Articles 2 – 5) obliges parties to legislate where necessary to give effect to the rights recognised in the Covenant, and to provide an effective legal remedy for any violation of those rights.It also requires the rights be recognised "without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status," and to ensure that they are enjoyed equally by women. The rights can only be limited "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation," and even then no derogation is permitted from the rights to life, freedom from torture and slavery, the freedom from retrospective law, the right to personhood, and freedom of thought, conscience, religion and freedom from medical or scientific treatment without consent.
Part 3 (Articles 6 – 27) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to:
Many of these rights include specific actions which must be undertaken to realise them.
Part 4 (Articles 28 – 45) governs the establishment and operation of the Human Rights Committee and the reporting and monitoring of the Covenant. It also allows parties to recognise the competence of the committee to resolve disputes between parties on the implementation of the Covenant (Articles 41 and 42).
Part 5 (Articles 46 – 47) clarifies that the Covenant shall not be interpreted as interfering with the operation of the United Nations or "the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources".
Part 6 (Articles 48 – 53) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.
Article 6 of the Covenant recognises the individual's "inherent right to life" and requires it to be protected by law.It is a "supreme right" from which no derogation can be permitted, and must be interpreted widely. It therefore requires parties to take positive measures to reduce infant mortality and increase life expectancy, as well as forbidding arbitrary killings by security forces.
While Article 6 does not prohibit the death penalty, it restricts its application to the "most serious crimes"and forbids it to be used on children and pregnant women or in a manner contrary to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The UN Human Rights Committee interprets the Article as "strongly suggest[ing] that abolition is desirable", and regards any progress towards abolition of the death penalty as advancing this right. The Second Optional Protocol commits its signatories to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders.
Article 7 prohibits torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and non-consentual medical or scientific treatment.As with Article 6, it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances. The article is now interpreted to impose similar obligations to those required by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, including not just prohibition of torture, but active measures to prevent its use and a prohibition on refoulement. In response to Nazi human experimentation during WW2 this article explicitly includes a prohibition on medical and scientific experimentation without consent.
Article 8 prohibits slavery and enforced servitude in all situations.The article also prohibits forced labour, with exceptions for criminal punishment, military service and civil obligations.
Article 9 recognises the rights to liberty and security of the person. It prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, requires any deprivation of liberty to be according to law,and obliges parties to allow those deprived of their liberty to challenge their imprisonment through the courts. These provisions apply not just to those imprisoned as part of the criminal process, but also to those detained due to mental illness, drug addiction, or for educational or immigration purposes.
Articles 9.3 and 9.4 impose procedural safeguards around arrest, requiring anyone arrested to be promptly informed of the charges against them, and to be brought promptly before a judge.It also restricts the use of pre-trial detention, requiring that it not be 'the general rule'.
Article 10 requires anyone deprived of liberty to be treated with dignity and humanity.This applies not just to prisoners, but also to those detained for immigration purposes or psychiatric care. The right complements the Article 7 prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The article also imposes specific obligations around criminal justice, requiring prisoners in pretrial detention to be separated from convicted prisoners, and children to be separated from adults. It requires prisons to be focused on reform and rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Article 11 prohibits the use of imprisonment as a punishment for breach of contract.
Article 14 recognizes and protects a right to justice and a fair trial. Article 14.1 establishes the ground rules: everyone must be equal before the courts, and any hearing must take place in open court before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, with any judgment or ruling made public.Closed hearings are only permitted for reasons of privacy, justice, or national security, and judgments may only be suppressed in divorce cases or to protect the interests of children. These obligations apply to both criminal and civil hearings, and to all courts and tribunals. Article 14.3 mandates that litigants must be informed promptly and in detail in a language which they understand.
The rest of the article imposes specific and detailed obligations around the process of criminal trials in order to protect the rights of the accused and the right to a fair trial. It establishes the Presumption of innocenceand forbids double jeopardy. It requires that those convicted of a crime be allowed to appeal to a higher tribunal, and requires victims of a Miscarriage of justice to be compensated. It establishes rights to a speedy trial, to counsel, against self-incrimination, and for the accused to be present and call and examine witnesses.
Article 15 prohibits prosecutions under Ex post facto law and the imposition of retrospective criminal penalties, and requires the imposition of the lesser penalty where criminal sentences have changed between the offence and conviction.But except the criminal according to general principles of law recognized by international community. (jus cogens)
Article 16 requires states to recognize everyone as a person before the law.
Article 12 guarantees freedom of movement, including the right of persons to choose their residence, to leave and return to a country.These rights apply to legal aliens as well as citizens of a state, and can be restricted only where necessary to protect national security, public order or health, and the rights and freedoms of others. The article also recognises a right of people to enter their own country: the right of return. The Human Rights Committee interprets this right broadly as applying not just to citizens, but also to those stripped of or denied their nationality. They also regard it as near-absolute; "there are few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one's own country could be reasonable".
Article 13 forbids the arbitrary expulsion of resident aliens and requires such decisions to be able to be appealed and reviewed.
Article 17 mandates the right of privacy.This provision, specifically article 17(1), protects private adult consensual sexual activity, thereby nullifying prohibitions on homosexual behaviour, however, the wording of this covenant's marriage right (Article 23) excludes the extrapolation of a same-sex marriage right from this provision. Article 17 also protects people against unlawful attacks to their honor and reputation. Article 17 (2) grants the protection of the law against such attacks.
Article 18 mandates freedom of religion or belief.
Article 19 mandates freedom of expression.
Article 20 mandates sanctions against inciting war and hatred.
Article 21 mandates freedom of assembly and 22 mandates freedom of association. These provisions guarantee the right to freedom of association, the right to trade unions and also defines the International Labour Organization.
Article 23 mandates the right of marriage.The wording of this provision neither requires nor prohibits same-sex marriage.
Article 24 mandates special protection, the right to a name, and the right to a nationality for every child.
Article 27 mandates the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minority to enjoy their own culture, to profess their own religion, and to use their own language.
Article 3 provides an accessory non-discrimination principle. Accessory in the way that it cannot be used independently and can only be relied upon in relation to another right protected by the ICCPR.
In contrast, Article 26 contains a revolutionary norm by providing an autonomous equality principle which is not dependent upon another right under the convention being infringed. This has the effect of widening the scope of the non-discrimination principle beyond the scope of ICCPR.
There are two Optional Protocols to the Covenant. The First Optional Protocol establishes an individual complaints mechanism, allowing individuals to complain to the Human Rights Committee about violations of the Covenant. As of September 2019 [update] , the First Optional Protocol has 116 parties.This has led to the creation of a complex jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Covenant.
The Second Optional Protocol abolishes the death penalty; however, countries were permitted to make a reservation allowing for use of death penalty for the most serious crimes of a military nature, committed during wartime. As of September 2019 [update] , the Second Optional Protocol had 87 parties.
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A number of parties have made reservations and interpretative declarations to their application of the Covenant.
Argentina will apply the fair trial rights guaranteed in its constitution to the prosecution of those accused of violating the general law of nations.
Australia reserves the right to progressively implement the prison standards of Article 10, to compensate for miscarriages of justice by administrative means rather than through the courts, and interprets the prohibition on racial incitement as being subject to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. It also declares that its implementation will be effected at each level of its federal system.
Austria reserves the right to continue to exile members of the House of Habsburg, and limits the rights of the accused and the right to a fair trial to those already existing in its legal system.
Bahamas, due to problems with implementation, reserves the right not to compensate for miscarriages of justice.
Bahrain interprets Articles 3 (no sexual discrimination), 18 (freedom of religion) and 23 (family rights) within the context of Islamic Sharia law.
Bangladesh reserves the right to try people in absentia where they are fugitives from justice and declares that resource constraints mean that it cannot necessarily segregate prisons or provide counsel for accused persons.
Barbados reserves the right not to provide free counsel for accused persons due to resource constraints.
Belgium interprets the freedoms of speech, assembly and association in a manner consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. It does not consider itself obliged to ban war propaganda as required by Article 20, and interprets that article in light of the freedom of expression in the UDHR.
Belize reserves the right not to compensate for miscarriages of justice, due to problems with implementation, and does not plan to provide free legal counsel for the same reasons as above. It also refuses to ensure the right to free travel at any time, due to a law requiring those travelling abroad to provide tax clearance certificates.
Congo, as per the Congolese Code of Civil, Commercial, Administrative and Financial Procedure, in matters of private law, decisions or orders emanating from conciliation proceedings may be enforced through imprisonment for debt.
Denmark reserves the right to exclude the press and the public from trials as per its own laws. Reservation is further made to Article 20, paragraph 1. This reservation is in accordance with the vote cast by Denmark in the XVI General Assembly of the United Nations in 1961 when the Danish Delegation, referring to the preceding article concerning freedom of expression, voted against the prohibition against propaganda for war.
The Gambia, as per its constitution, will provide free legal assistance for accused persons charged with capital offences only.
Pakistan, has made several reservations to the articles in the convention; "the provisions of Articles 3, 6, 7, 18 and 19 shall be so applied to the extent that they are not repugnant to the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan and the Sharia laws", "the provisions of Article 12 shall be so applied as to be in conformity with the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan", "With respect to Article 13, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan reserves its right to apply its law relating to foreigners", "the provisions of Article 25 shall be so applied to the extent that they are not repugnant to the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan" and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan "does not recognize the competence of the Committee provided for in Article 40 of the Covenant".
The United States has made reservations that none of the articles should restrict the right of free speech and association; that the US government may impose capital punishment on any person other than a pregnant woman, including persons below the age of 18; that "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment" refers to those treatments or punishments prohibited by one or more of the fifth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments to the US Constitution; that Paragraph 1, Article 15 will not apply; and that, notwithstanding paragraphs 2(b) and 3 of Article 10 and paragraph 4 of Article 14, the US government may treat juveniles as adults, and accept volunteers to the military prior to the age of 18. The United States also submitted five "understandings", and four "declarations".
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has 167 states parties, 67 by signature and ratification, and the remainder by accession or succession. Another five states have signed but have yet to ratify the treaty.
The Covenant is not directly enforceable in Australia, but its provisions support a number of domestic laws, which confer enforceable rights on individuals. For example, Article 17 of the convention has been implemented by the Australian Privacy Act 1988. Likewise, the Covenant's equality and anti-discrimination provisions support the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Finally, the Covenant is one of the major sources of 'human rights' listed in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.This law requires most new legislation and administrative instruments (such as delegated/subordinate legislation) to be tabled in parliament with a statement outlining the proposed law's compatibility with the listed human rights A Joint Committee on Human Rights scrutinises all new legislation and statements of compatibility. The findings of the Joint Committee are not legally binding.
Legislation also establishes the Australian Human Rights Commissionwhich allows the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to examine enacted legislation (to suggest remedial enactments ), its administration (to suggest avoidance of practices ) and general compliance with the covenant which is scheduled to the AHRC legislation.
In Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, the convention can be used by a plaintiff or defendant who invokes those jurisdiction's human rights charters.While the Convention cannot be used to overturn a Victorian or ACT law, a Court can issue a 'declaration of incompatibility' that requires the relevant Attorney-General to respond in Parliament within a set time period. Courts in Victoria and the ACT are also directed by the legislation to interpret the law in a way to give effect to a human right, and new legislation and subordinate legislation must be accompanied by a statement of compatibility. Efforts to implement a similar Charter at the national level have been frustrated and Australia's Constitution may prevent conferring the 'declaration' power on federal judges.
Ireland's use of Special Criminal Courts where juries are replaced by judges and other special procedures apply has been found to not violate the treaty: "In the Committee's view, trial before courts other than the ordinary courts is not necessarily, per se, a violation of the entitlement to a fair hearing and the facts of the present case do not show that there has been such a violation."
New Zealand took measures to give effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990, and formally incorporated the status of protected person into law through the passing of the Immigration Act 2009.
Sri Lankan author Shakthika Sathkumara was arrested on 1 April 2019 for inciting religious violence, following a publication of a short story about homosexuality and child abuse at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The author had been adjudged the best Sinhala language short story writer in Sri Lanka's National Youth Literary Festivals of 2010 and 2014, and was twice the recipient of the north western provincial state literary award. A group of Buddhist monks had stormed the author's workplace demanding punitive action against him after the story first appeared on Facebook; the ICCPR prohibits "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence". Human rights organizations Civicus and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have asserted that the charges are spurious and a clear violation of the author's right to freedom of expression.
The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with five reservations, five understandings, and four declarations.Some have noted that with so many reservations, its implementation has little domestic effect. Included in the Senate's ratification was the declaration that "the provisions of Article 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing", and in a Senate Executive Report stated that the declaration was meant to "clarify that the Covenant will not create a private cause of action in U.S. Courts."
Where a treaty or covenant is not self-executing, and where Congress has not acted to implement the agreement with legislation, no private right of action within the US judicial system is created by ratification.
As a reservation that is "incompatible with the object and purpose" of a treaty is void as a matter of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and international law,there is some issue as to whether the non-self-execution declaration is even legal under domestic law.
Prominent critics in the human rights community, such as Prof. Louis Henkin [ citation needed ](non-self-execution declaration incompatible with the Supremacy Clause) and Prof. Jordan Paust ("Rarely has a treaty been so abused") have denounced the United States' ratification subject to the non-self-execution declaration as being a blatant fraud upon the international community, especially in light of what they allege is its subsequent failure to conform domestic law to the minimum human rights standards as established in the Covenant and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over the last thirty years.
It has been argued that Article 20(2) of the ICCPR may be unconstitutional according to Supreme Court precedent, which is the reason behind the Senate reservations.
In 1994, the United Nations' Human Rights Committee expressed concerns with compliance:
Of particular concern are widely formulated reservations which essentially render ineffective all Covenant rights which would require any change in national law to ensure compliance with Covenant obligations. No real international rights or obligations have thus been accepted. And when there is an absence of provisions to ensure that Covenant rights may be sued on in domestic courts, and, further, a failure to allow individual complaints to be brought to the Committee under the first Optional Protocol, all the essential elements of the Covenant guarantees have been removed.
Indeed, the United States has not accepted a single international obligation required under the Covenant. It has not changed its domestic law to conform with the strictures of the Covenant.Its citizens are not permitted to sue to enforce their basic human rights under the Covenant. It has not ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). As such, the Covenant has been rendered ineffective, with the bone of contention being United States officials' insistence upon preserving a vast web of sovereign, judicial, prosecutorial, and executive branch immunities that often deprives its citizens of the "effective remedy" under law the Covenant is intended to guarantee.
In 2006, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern over what it interprets as material non-compliance, exhorting the United States to take immediate corrective action:
The Committee notes with concern the restrictive interpretation made by the State party of its obligations under the Covenant, as a result in particular of (a) its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, nor in time of war, despite the contrary opinions and established jurisprudence of the Committee and the International Court of Justice; (b) its failure to take fully into consideration its obligation under the Covenant not only to respect, but also to ensure the rights prescribed by the Covenant; and (c) its restrictive approach to some substantive provisions of the Covenant, which is not in conformity with the interpretation made by the Committee before and after the State party's ratification of the Covenant. The State party should review its approach and interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose. The State party should in particular (a) acknowledge the applicability of the Covenant with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, as well as its applicability in time of war; (b) take positive steps, when necessary, to ensure the full implementation of all rights prescribed by the Covenant; and (c) consider in good faith the interpretation of the Covenant provided by the Committee pursuant to its mandate.
As of February 2013 [update] , the United States is among States scheduled for examination in the 107th (11–28 March 2013) and 109th (14 October –1 November 2013) sessions of the committee. [ needs update ]
There are a total of 173 parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
|State party||Signed||Ratified or acceded||Entry into force|
|Afghanistan||—||24 January 1983||24 April 1983|
|Albania||—||4 October 1991||4 January 1992|
|Algeria||10 December 1968||12 September 1989||12 December 1989|
|Andorra||5 August 2002||22 September 2006||22 December 2006|
|Angola||—||10 January 1992||10 April 1992|
|Antigua and Barbuda||—||3 July 2019||3 November 2019|
|Argentina||18 February 1968||8 August 1986||8 November 1986|
|Armenia||—||23 June 1993||23 September 1993|
|Australia||18 December 1972||13 August 1980||13 November 1980|
|Austria||10 December 1973||10 September 1978||10 December 1978|
|Azerbaijan||—||13 August 1992||13 November 1992|
|Bahamas, The||4 December 2008||23 December 2008||23 March 2009|
|Bahrain||—||20 September 2006||20 December 2006|
|Bangladesh||—||6 September 2000||6 December 2000|
|Barbados||—||5 January 1973||23 March 1976|
|Belarus||19 March 1968||12 November 1973||23 March 1976|
|Belgium||10 December 1968||12 April 1983||12 July 1983|
|Belize||—||10 June 1996||10 September 1996|
|Benin||—||12 March 1992||12 June 1992|
|Bolivia||—||12 August 1982||12 November 1982|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||—||1 September 1993||6 March 1992|
|Botswana||8 September 2000||8 September 2000||8 December 2000|
|Brazil||—||24 January 1992||24 April 1992|
|Bulgaria||8 October 1968||21 September 1970||23 March 1976|
|Burkina Faso||—||4 January 1999||4 April 1999|
|Burundi||—||8 May 1990||8 August 1990|
|Cambodia||17 October 1980||26 May 1992||26 August 1992|
|Cameroon||—||27 January 1984||27 April 1984|
|Canada||—||19 May 1976||19 August 1976|
|Cape Verde||—||6 August 1993||6 November 1993|
|Central African Republic||—||8 May 1981||8 August 1981|
|Chad||—||9 June 1995||9 September 1995|
|Chile||16 September 1969||10 February 1972||23 March 1976|
|Colombia||21 December 1966||29 October 1969||23 March 1976|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||—||1 November 1976||1 February 1977|
|Congo, Republic of the||—||5 October 1983||5 January 1984|
|Costa Rica||19 December 1966||29 November 1968||23 March 1976|
|Côte d'Ivoire||—||26 March 1992||26 June 1992|
|Croatia||—||12 October 1992||12 January 1993|
|Cyprus||19 December 1966||2 April 1969||23 March 1976|
|Czech Republic||—||22 February 1993||1 January 1993|
|Denmark||20 March 1968||6 January 1972||23 March 1976|
|Djibouti||—||5 November 2002||5 February 2003|
|Dominica||—||17 June 1993||17 September 1993|
|Dominican Republic||—||4 January 1978||4 April 1978|
|East Timor||—||18 September 2003||18 December 2003|
|Ecuador||4 April 1968||6 March 1969||23 March 1976|
|Egypt||4 August 1967||14 January 1982||14 April 1982|
|El Salvador||21 September 1967||30 November 1979||29 February 1980|
|Equatorial Guinea||—||25 September 1987||25 December 1987|
|Eritrea||—||22 January 2002||22 April 2002|
|Estonia||—||21 October 1991||21 January 1992|
|Ethiopia||—||11 June 1993||11 September 1993|
|Fiji||—||16 August 2018||16 November 2018|
|Finland||11 October 1967||19 August 1975||23 March 1976|
|France||—||4 November 1980||4 February 1981|
|Gabon||—||21 January 1983||21 April 1983|
|Gambia, The||—||22 March 1979||22 June 1979|
|Georgia||—||3 May 1994||3 August 1994|
|Germany||9 October 1968||17 December 1973||23 March 1976|
|Ghana||7 September 2000||7 September 2000||7 December 2000|
|Greece||—||5 May 1997||5 August 1997|
|Grenada||—||6 September 1991||6 December 1991|
|Guatemala||—||5 May 1992||5 August 1992|
|Guinea||28 February 1967||24 January 1978||24 April 1978|
|Guinea-Bissau||12 September 2000||1 November 2010||1 February 2011|
|Guyana||22 August 1968||15 February 1977||15 May 1977|
|Haiti||—||6 February 1991||6 May 1991|
|Honduras||19 December 1966||25 August 1997||25 November 1997|
|Hungary||25 March 1969||17 January 1974||23 March 1976|
|Iceland||30 December 1968||22 August 1979||22 November 1979|
|India||—||10 April 1979||10 July 1979|
|Indonesia||—||23 February 2006||23 May 2006|
|Iran||4 April 1968||24 June 1975||23 March 1976|
|Iraq||18 February 1969||25 January 1971||23 March 1976|
|Ireland||1 October 1973||8 December 1989||8 March 1990|
|Israel||19 December 1966||3 October 1991||3 January 1992|
|Italy||18 January 1967||15 September 1978||15 December 1978|
|Jamaica||19 December 1966||3 October 1975||23 March 1976|
|Japan||30 May 1978||21 June 1979||21 September 1979|
|Jordan||30 June 1972||28 May 1975||23 March 1976|
|Kazakhstan||2 December 2003||24 January 2006||24 April 2006|
|Kenya||—||1 May 1972||23 March 1976|
|Korea, North||—||14 September 1981||14 December 1981|
|Korea, South||—||10 April 1990||10 July 1990|
|Kuwait||—||21 May 1996||21 August 1996|
|Kyrgyzstan||—||7 October 1994||7 January 1995|
|Laos||7 December 2000||25 September 2009||25 December 2009|
|Latvia||—||14 April 1992||14 July 1992|
|Lebanon||—||3 November 1972||23 March 1976|
|Lesotho||—||9 September 1992||9 December 1992|
|Liberia||18 April 1967||22 September 2004||22 December 2004|
|Libya||—||15 May 1970||23 March 1976|
|Liechtenstein||—||10 December 1998||10 March 1999|
|Lithuania||—||20 November 1991||10 February 1992|
|Luxembourg||26 November 1974||18 August 1983||18 November 1983|
|North Macedonia||—||18 January 1994||17 September 1991|
|Madagascar||17 September 1969||21 June 1971||23 March 1976|
|Malawi||—||22 December 1993||22 March 1994|
|Maldives||—||19 September 2006||19 December 2006|
|Mali||—||16 July 1974||23 March 1976|
|Malta||—||13 September 1990||13 December 1990|
|Marshall Islands||—||12 March 2018||12 June 2018|
|Mauritania||—||17 November 2004||17 February 2005|
|Mauritius||—||12 December 1973||23 March 1976|
|Mexico||—||23 March 1981||23 June 1981|
|Moldova||—||26 January 1993||26 April 1993|
|Monaco||26 June 1997||28 August 1997||28 November 1997|
|Mongolia||5 June 1968||18 November 1974||23 March 1976|
|Montenegro||—||23 October 2006||3 June 2006|
|Morocco||19 January 1977||3 May 1979||3 August 1979|
|Mozambique||—||21 July 1993||21 October 1993|
|Namibia||—||28 November 1994||28 February 1995|
|Nepal||—||14 May 1991||14 August 1991|
|Netherlands||25 June 1969||11 December 1978||11 March 1979|
|New Zealand||12 November 1968||28 December 1978||28 March 1979|
|Nicaragua||—||12 March 1980||12 June 1980|
|Niger||—||7 March 1986||7 June 1986|
|Nigeria||—||29 July 1993||29 October 1993|
|Norway||20 March 1968||13 September 1972||23 March 1976|
|Pakistan||17 April 2008||23 June 2010||23 September 2010|
|Palestine||—||2 April 2014||2 July 2014|
|Panama||27 July 1976||8 March 1977||8 June 1977|
|Papua New Guinea||—||21 July 2008||21 October 2008|
|Paraguay||—||10 June 1992||10 September 1992|
|Peru||11 August 1977||28 April 1978||28 July 1978|
|Philippines||19 December 1966||23 October 1986||23 January 1987|
|Poland||2 March 1967||18 March 1977||18 June 1977|
|Portugal||7 October 1976||15 June 1978||15 September 1978|
|Qatar||—||21 May 2018||21 August 2018|
|Romania||27 June 1968||9 December 1974||23 March 1976|
|Russia||18 March 1968||16 October 1973||23 March 1976|
|Rwanda||—||16 April 1975||23 March 1976|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||—||9 November 1981||9 February 1981|
|Samoa||—||15 February 2008||15 May 2008|
|San Marino||—||18 October 1985||18 January 1986|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||31 October 1995||10 January 2017||10 April 2017|
|Senegal||6 July 1970||13 February 1978||13 May 1978|
|Serbia||—||12 March 2001||27 April 1992|
|Seychelles||—||5 May 1992||5 August 1992|
|Sierra Leone||—||23 August 1996||23 November 1996|
|Slovakia||—||28 May 1993||1 January 1993|
|Slovenia||—||6 July 1992||6 October 1992|
|Somalia||—||24 January 1990||24 April 1990|
|South Africa||3 October 1994||10 December 1998||10 March 1999|
|Spain||28 September 1976||27 April 1977||27 July 1977|
|Sri Lanka||—||11 June 1980||11 September 1980|
|Sudan||—||18 March 1986||18 June 1986|
|Suriname||—||28 December 1976||28 March 1977|
|Swaziland||—||26 March 2004||26 June 2004|
|Sweden||29 September 1967||6 December 1971||23 March 1976|
|Switzerland||—||18 June 1992||18 September 1992|
|Syria||—||21 April 1969||23 March 1976|
|Tajikistan||—||4 January 1999||4 April 1999|
|Tanzania||—||11 June 1976||11 September 1976|
|Thailand||—||29 October 1996||29 January 1997|
|Togo||—||24 May 1984||24 August 1984|
|Trinidad and Tobago||—||21 December 1978||21 March 1979|
|Tunisia||30 April 1968||18 March 1969||23 March 1976|
|Turkey||15 August 2000||23 September 2003||23 December 2003|
|Turkmenistan||—||1 May 1997||1 August 1997|
|Uganda||—||21 June 1995||21 September 1995|
|Ukraine||20 March 1968||12 November 1973||23 March 1976|
|United Kingdom||16 September 1968||20 May 1976||20 August 1976|
|United States||5 October 1977||8 June 1992||8 September 1992|
|Uruguay||21 February 1967||21 May 1967||23 March 1976|
|Uzbekistan||—||28 September 1995||28 December 1995|
|Vanuatu||29 November 2007||21 November 2008||21 February 2009|
|Venezuela||24 June 1969||10 May 1978||10 August 1978|
|Vietnam||—||24 September 1982||24 December 1982|
|Yemen||—||9 February 1987||9 May 1987|
|Zambia||—||10 April 1984||10 July 1984|
|Zimbabwe||—||13 May 1991||13 August 1991|
Most states in the world are parties to the ICCPR. The following 25 states have not become party to it, but six states have signed the Covenant but not ratified it.
|China||5 October 1998|
|Comoros||25 September 2008|
|Cuba||28 February 2008|
|Nauru||12 November 2001|
|Palau||20 September 2011|
|Saint Lucia||22 September 2011|
International human rights instruments are the treaties and other international texts that serve as legal sources for international human rights law and the protection of human rights in general. There are many varying types, but most can be classified into two broad categories: declarations, adopted by bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly, which are by nature declaratory, so not legally-binding although they may be politically authoritative and very well-respected soft law;, and often express guiding principles; and conventions that are multi-party treaties that are designed to become legally binding, usually include prescriptive and very specific language, and usually are concluded by a long procedure that frequently requires ratification by each states' legislature. Lesser known are some "recommendations" which are similar to conventions in being multilaterally agreed, yet cannot be ratified, and serve to set common standards. There may also be administrative guidelines that are agreed multilaterally by states, as well as the statutes of tribunals or other institutions. A specific prescription or principle from any of these various international instruments can, over time, attain the status of customary international law whether it is specifically accepted by a state or not, just because it is well-recognized and followed over a sufficiently long time.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings. It was accepted by the General Assembly as Resolution 217 during its third session on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the 58 members of the United Nations at the time, 48 voted in favour, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a United Nations body of 18 experts established by a human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee meets for three four-week sessions per year to consider the periodic reports submitted by the 172 States parties to the ICCPR on their compliance with the treaty, and any individual petitions concerning the 116 States parties to the ICCPR's First Optional Protocol. The Committee is one of ten UN human rights treaty bodies, each responsible for overseeing the implementation of a particular treaty.
The American Convention on Human Rights, also known as the Pact of San José, is an international human rights instrument. It was adopted by many countries in the Western Hemisphere in San José, Costa Rica, on 22 November 1969. It came into force after the eleventh instrument of ratification was deposited on 18 July 1978.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966 through GA. Resolution 2200A (XXI), and came in force from 3 January 1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to the Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories and individuals, including labour rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. As of July 2020, the Covenant has 171 parties. A further four countries, including the United States, have signed but not ratified the Covenant.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it was instituted on 3 September 1981 and has been ratified by 189 states. Over fifty countries that have ratified the Convention have done so subject to certain declarations, reservations, and objections, including 38 countries who rejected the enforcement article 29, which addresses means of settlement for disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. Australia's declaration noted the limitations on central government power resulting from its federal constitutional system. The United States and Palau have signed, but not ratified the treaty. The Holy See, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga are not signatories to CEDAW.
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The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is an international treaty establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008, and opened for signature on 24 September 2009. As of October 2018, the Protocol has 45 signatories and 24 state parties. It entered into force on 5 May 2013.
The First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is an international treaty establishing an individual complaint mechanism for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and entered into force on 23 March 1976. As of May 2020, it had 35 signatories and 116 states parties. Two of the ratifying states—Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago—have denounced the protocol.
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Status of ratification