International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Parties and signatories of the ICCPR
  State party
  Signatory that has not ratified
  State party which attempted to withdraw (see below)
  Non-state party, non-signatory
Type United Nations General Assembly Resolution
Drafted 1954
Signed 16 December 1966[1]
Location United Nations Headquarters, New York
Effective 23 March 1976[1]
Signatories 74[1]
Parties 168[1]
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 the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976. It 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 April 2014, the Covenant has 74 signatories and 168 parties.[1]

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).[2]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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."[5] The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously.[5] Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.[6]

The first document became the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the second the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The drafts were presented to the UN General Assembly for discussion in 1954, and adopted in 1966.[7] 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.


The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and ICESCR, with a preamble and fifty-three articles, divided into six parts.[8]

Part 1 (Article 1) recognizes the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status",[9] 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,[10] and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.[11]

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.[12] 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,"[13] and to ensure that they are enjoyed equally by women.[14] The rights can only be limited "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,"[15] 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 and religion.[16]

Part 3 (Articles 6 – 27) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to

  • physical integrity, in the form of the right to life and freedom from torture and slavery (Articles 6, 7, and 8);
  • liberty and security of the person, in the form of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to habeas corpus (Articles 9 – 11);
  • procedural fairness in law, in the form of rights to due process, a fair and impartial trial, the presumption of innocence, and recognition as a person before the law (Articles 14, 15, and 16);
  • individual liberty, in the form of the freedoms of movement, thought, conscience and religion, speech, association and assembly, family rights, the right to a nationality, and the right to privacy (Articles 12, 13, 17 – 24);
  • prohibition of any propaganda for war as well as any advocacy of national or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence by law (Article 20);
  • political participation, including the right to the right to vote (Article 25);
  • Non-discrimination, minority rights and equality before the law (Articles 26 and 27).

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".[17]

Part 6 (Articles 48 – 53) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.

Core provisions[edit]

Rights to physical integrity[edit]

Main articles: Right to life, Torture and Slavery

Article 6 of the Covenant recognises the individual's "inherent right to life" and requires it to be protected by law.[18] It is a "supreme right" from which no derogation can be permitted, and must be interpreted widely.[19] 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.[19]

While Article 6 does not prohibit the death penalty, it restricts its application to the "most serious crimes"[20] and forbids it to be used on children and pregnant women[21] or in a manner contrary to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[22] The UN Human Rights Committee interprets the Article as "strongly suggest[ing] that abolition is desirable",[19] and regards any progress towards abolition of the death penalty as advancing this right.[19] The Second Optional Protocol commits its signatories to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders.

Article 7 prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.[23] As with Article 6, it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances.[16] 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.[24] In response to Nazi human experimentation during WW2 this article explicitly includes a prohibition on medical and scientific experimentation without consent.[23]

Article 8 prohibits slavery and enforced servitude in all situations.[25] The article also prohibits forced labour, with exceptions for criminal punishment, military service and civil obligations.[26]

Liberty and security of person[edit]

Main article: Habeas corpus

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,[27] and obliges parties to allow those deprived of their liberty to challenge their imprisonment through the courts.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30] It also restricts the use of pre-trial detention,[31] requiring it to be imposed only in exceptional circumstances and for as short a period of time as possible.[29]

Article 10 requires anyone deprived of liberty to be treated with dignity and humanity.[32] This applies not just to prisoners, but also to those detained for immigration purposes or psychiatric care.[33] The right complements the Article 7 prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.[33] 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.[34] It requires prisons to be focused on reform and rehabilitation rather than punishment.[35]

Article 11 prohibits the use of imprisonment as a punishment for breach of contract.[36]

Procedural fairness and rights of the accused[edit]

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.[37] 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.[37] These obligations apply to both criminal and civil hearings, and to all courts and tribunals.[38]

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 innocence[39] and forbids double jeopardy.[40] It requires that those convicted of a crime be allowed to appeal to a higher tribunal,[41] and requires victims of a Miscarriage of justice to be compensated.[42] It establishes rights to a speedy trial, to counsel, against self-incrimination, and for the accused to be present and call and examine witnesses.[43]

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.[44] But except the criminal according to general principles of law recognized by international community.[45] (jus cogens)

Article 16 requires states to recognize everyone as a person before the law.[46]

Individual liberties[edit]

Article 12 guarantees freedom of movement, including the right of persons to choose their residence and to leave a country.[47] These rights apply to legal aliens as well as citizens of a state,[48] and can be restricted only where necessary to protect national security, public order or health, and the rights and freedoms of others.[49] The article also recognises a right of people to enter their own country.[50] The Human Rights Committee interprets this right broadly as applying not just to citizens, but also to those stripped of or denied their nationality.[48] 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".[48]

Article 13 forbids the arbitrary expulsion of resident aliens and requires such decisions to be able to be appealed and reviewed.[51]

Article 17 mandates the right of privacy.[52] This provision, specifically article 17(1), protects private adult consensual sexual activity, thereby nullifying prohibitions on homosexual behaviour,[53] however, the wording of this covenant's marriage right (Article 23) excludes the extrapolation of a same-sex marriage right from this provision.[54] 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[52]

Article 18 mandates freedom of religion.[55]

Article 19 mandates freedom of expression.[56]

Article 20 mandates sanctions against inciting hatred.[57]

Articles 21 and 22 mandate freedom of association. These provisions guarantee the right to freedom of association, the right to trade unions and also defines the International Labour Organisation.[58][59]

Article 23 mandates the right of marriage.[60] The wording of this provision neither requires nor prohibits same-sex marriage.[61]

Article 24 mandates special protection, the right to a name, and the right to a nationality for every child.[62]

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.[63]

Political rights[edit]

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.

Optional protocols[edit]

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.[64] This has led to the creation of a complex jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Covenant. As of July 2013, the First Optional Protocol has 114 parties.[65]

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.[66] As of July 2013, the Second Optional Protocol had 77 parties.[67]


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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[1]

Bahamas, due to problems with implementation, reserves the right not to compensate for miscarriages of justice.[1]

Bahrain interprets Articles 3 (no sexual discrimination), 18 (freedom of religion) and 23 (family rights) within the context of Islamic Sharia law.[1]

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.[1]

Barbados reserves the right not to provide free counsel for accused persons due to resource constraints.[1]

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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[1]

Gambia, as per its constitution, will provide free legal assistance for accused persons charged with capital offences only.[1]

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 the Fifth, Eighth and/or 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".[68]

National implementation and effects[edit]

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.[1]


The Covenant is not directly enforceable in Australia, however 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.[69] This law requires most new legislation and administrative instruments (e.g. delegated/subordinate legislation) to be tabled in parliament with a statement outlining the proposed law's compatibility with the listed human rights[70] A Joint Committee on Human Rights scrutinises all new legislation and statements of compatibility.[71] The findings of the Joint Committee are not legally binding.

Legislation also exists which establishes the Australian Human Rights Commission [72] which allows the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to examine enacted legislation[73] (to suggest remedial enactments[74]), its administration[75] (to suggest avoidance of practices[76]) and general compliance[77] with the covenant which is schedule to the AHRC legislation.[78]

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 .[79] While the Convention cannot be used to overturn a Victorian or ACT law, a Court can issue a 'declaration of incompatibility' which requires the relevant Attorney-General to respond in Parliament within a set time period.[81] Courts in Victoria and the ACT are also directed by the legislation to interpret the law in such a way as to give effect to a human right,[80] and new legislation and subordinate legislation must be accompanied by a statement of compatibility.[82] 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.[83]


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.".[84]

New Zealand[edit]

While New Zealand has not incorporated the ICCPR into law, it took measures to give effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990.

United States[edit]

Reservations, understandings, and declarations[edit]

The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with five reservations, five understandings, and four declarations.[68] Some have noted that with so many reservations, its implementation has little domestic effect.[85] Included in the Senate's ratification was the declaration that "the provisions of Article 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing",[86] 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."[87]

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 U.S. judicial system is created by ratification.[88] However, the U.S. Federal Government has held that the ICCPR treaty was only ratified "after" it was determined that all the necessary legislation was in place to provide for domestic effect of law, thereby making the ICCPR treaty self-executing by definition. See all four reports by U.S. to U.N. regarding the ICCPR treaty. It is also important to emphasize that the "self-executing" statement was a declaration and the Courts have held that declarations have NO effect upon treaty law and the rights of citizens.

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,[89] there is some issue as to whether the non-self-execution declaration is even legal under domestic law.[90]

Prominent critics in the human rights community, such as Prof. Louis Henkin[91] (non-self-execution declaration incompatible with the Supremacy Clause) and Prof. Jordan Paust[92] ("Rarely has a treaty been so abused") have denounced the United States' ratification subject to the non-self-execution declaration as a blatant fraud upon the international community, especially in light of 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, as well as Article 4 of the ICERD, may be unconstitutional according to Supreme Court precedent, which is the reason behind the Senate reservations.[93]


In 1994, the United Nations' Human Rights Committee expressed concerns with compliance:[94]

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.[95] Its citizens are not permitted to sue to enforce their basic human rights under the Covenant.[95] 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:[96]

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, 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.[97]

Parties to the Covenant[edit]

There are a total of 168 parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[98]

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
 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 2008
 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[A] 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[B] 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[A] 12 October 1992 12 January 1993
 Cyprus 19 December 1966 2 April 1969 23 March 1976
 Czech Republic[C] 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
 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[D] 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[E] 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
 Macedonia[A] 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
 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[A] 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[F] 7 October 1976 15 June 1978 15 September 1978
 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
 Senegal 6 July 1970 13 February 1978 13 May 1978
 Serbia[A] 12 March 2001 27 April 1992
 Seychelles 5 May 1992 5 August 1992
 Sierra Leone 23 August 1996 23 November 1996
 Slovakia[C] 28 May 1993 1 January 1993
 Slovenia[A] 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[G] 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

States not party to the Covenant[edit]

The majority of states in the world are parties to the ICCPR. The following 29 states have not become party to it, however seven states have signed the Covenant, but not ratified it.[98]

Signatories that have not ratified[edit]

State Signed
 China[F][G][H] 5 October 1998
 Comoros 25 September 2008
 Cuba 28 February 2008
 Nauru 12 November 2001
 Palau 20 September 2011
 Saint Lucia 22 September 2011
 São Tomé and Príncipe 31 October 1995

States which are neither signatories nor parties[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f  Yugoslavia signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971; it entered into force for Yugoslavia on 23 March 1976. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the following states located in the former Yugoslavia made declarations regarding that status of the Covenant with regard to themselves:
    •  Bosnia and Herzegovina – On 1 September 1993, it declared that the Covenant was in force for it since 6 March 1992.
    •  Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – On 12 March 2001, it declared that the Covenant was in force for it since 27 April 1992. On 4 February 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro, and on 3 June 2006  Serbia succeeded Serbia and Montenegro. Therefore, for Serbia, the Covenant has been in force since 27 April 1992.
    •  Macedonia – On 18 January 1994, it declared that the Covenant was in force for it since 17 September 1991.
    •  Montenegro – On 23 October 2006, it declared that the Covenant was in force for it since 3 June 2006.
  2. ^ Although Cambodia signed the Covenant when it was known as Democratic Kampuchea, it filed an instrument of accession, not ratification, on 26 May 1992.
  3. ^ a b  Czechoslovakia signed the Covenant on 7 October 1968 and ratified it on 23 December 1975; it entered into force for Czechoslovakia on 23 March 1976. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the  Czech Republic declared on 22 February 1993 that the Covenant was in force for it since 1 January 1993 and  Slovakia declared on 28 May 1993 that the Covenant was also in force for it since 1 January 1993.
  4. ^  East Germany signed the Covenant on 23 March 1973 and ratified it on 8 November 1973; it entered into force for East Germany on 23 March 1976. Following the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, East Germany ceased to exist.
  5. ^ On 25 August 1997, North Korea notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that it was withdrawing from the Covenant. However, the Secretary-General still considers North Korea a state party to the Covenant because the Covenant does not allow for withdrawal and therefore withdrawal would only be possible if all other states parties allowed it, which has not occurred.
  6. ^ a b Portugal extended the territorial application of the Covenant to Macau on 27 April 1993. On 3 December 1999, China notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the Covenant would still be in force for Macau following the transfer of sovereignty on 20 December 1999.
  7. ^ a b Both China and the United Kingdom notified the Secretary-General that the Covenant would continue to remain in force for Hong Kong upon transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997.
  8. ^  Taiwan (the Republic of China) lost its United Nations membership on 25 October 1971; the Republic of China signed the Covenant on 5 October 1967 but did not ratify it.

UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 34 on Freedom of Opinion and Expression[edit]

In July, 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted a 52-paragraph statement, General Comment 34 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1976, concerning freedoms of opinion and expression. Paragraph 48 states:

Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant, except in the specific circumstances envisaged in article 20, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. Such prohibitions must also comply with the strict requirements of article 19, paragraph 3, as well as such articles as 2, 5, 17, 18 and 26. Thus, for instance, it would be impermissible for any such laws to discriminate in favor of or against one or certain religions or belief systems, or their adherents over another, or religious believers over non-believers. Nor would it be permissible for such prohibitions to be used to prevent or punish criticism of religious leaders or commentary on religious doctrine and tenets of faith.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "UN Treaty Collection: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". United Nations. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-06. 
  2. ^ a b c "Fact Sheet No.2 (Rev.1), The International Bill of Human Rights". UN OHCHR. June 1996. Archived from the original on 13 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  3. ^ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Part I, Article 1, paragraph 3.
  4. ^ Sieghart, Paul (1983). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 25. 
  5. ^ a b United Nations General Assembly Resolution 543, 5 February 1952.
  6. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 545, 5 February 1952.
  7. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200, 16 December 1966.
  8. ^ The following section summarises the text of the Covenant.
  9. ^ ICCPR, Article 1.1.
  10. ^ ICCPR, Article 1.2.
  11. ^ ICCPR, Article 1.3.
  12. ^ ICCPR, Article 2.2, 2.3.
  13. ^ ICCPR, Article 2.1.
  14. ^ ICCPR, Article 3.
  15. ^ ICCPR, Article 4.1.
  16. ^ a b ICCPR, Article 4.2.
  17. ^ ICCPR, Article 47.
  18. ^ ICCPR, Article 6.1.
  19. ^ a b c d "CCPR General Comment No. 6: The right to life". UN OHCHR. 30 April 1982. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  20. ^ ICCPR, Article 6.2.
  21. ^ ICCPR, Article 6.5.
  22. ^ ICCPR, Article 6.3.
  23. ^ a b ICCPR, Article 7.
  24. ^ "CCPR General Comment No. 20: Replaces general comment 7 concerning prohibition of torture and cruel treatment or punishment". UN OHCHR. 10 March 1992. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  25. ^ ICCPR, Articles 8.1, 8.2.
  26. ^ ICCPR, Article 8.3.
  27. ^ ICCPR, Article 9.1.
  28. ^ ICCPR, Article 9.4.
  29. ^ a b "CCPR General Comment No. 08: Right to liberty and security of persons". UN OHCHR. 30 June 1982. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  30. ^ ICCPR, Articles 9.2, 9.3.
  31. ^ ICCPR, Article 9.3.
  32. ^ ICCPR, Article 10.1.
  33. ^ a b "General Comment No. 21: Replaces general comment 9 concerning humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty". UN OHCHR. 10 April 1992. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  34. ^ ICCPR, Article 10.2.
  35. ^ ICCPR, Article 10.3.
  36. ^ ICCPR, Article 11.
  37. ^ a b ICCPR, Article 14.1.
  38. ^ "General Comment No. 13: Equality before the courts and the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent court established by law". UN OHCHR. 13 April 1984. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  39. ^ ICCPR, Article 14.2.
  40. ^ ICCPR, Article 14.7.
  41. ^ ICCPR, Article 14.5.
  42. ^ ICCPR, Article 14.6.
  43. ^ ICCPR, Article 14.3.
  44. ^ ICCPR, Article 15.
  45. ^ ICCPR, Article 15.2.
  46. ^ ICCPR, Article 16.
  47. ^ ICCPR, Article 12.
  48. ^ a b c "CCPR: General Comment No. 27: Freedom of movement". UN OHCHR. 2 November 1999. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  49. ^ ICCPR, Article 12.3.
  50. ^ ICCPR, Article 12.4.
  51. ^ ICCPR, Article 13.
  52. ^ a b ICCPR, Article 17.
  53. ^ "Toonen v Australia Communication No. 488/1992 (1994) U.N. Doc CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992 at [8.1–8.6]". 
  54. ^ "Joslin v New Zealand (2002) Comm. No. 902/1999 U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002) at [Appendix (My Lallah & Mr Scheinen)]". 
  55. ^ ICCPR, Article 18.
  56. ^ ICCPR, Article 19.
  57. ^ ICCPR, Article 20.
  58. ^ ICCPR, Article 21.
  59. ^ ICCPR, Article 22.
  60. ^ ICCPR, Article 23.
  61. ^ Joslin v New Zealand (2002) Comm. No. 902/1999 U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002) at [8.2–9.0(majority)] & [1(Lallah & Scheinen JJ] "Joslin v New Zealand (2002) Comm. No. 902/1999 U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002)". 
  62. ^ ICCPR, Article 24.
  63. ^ ICCPR, Ariticle 27.
  64. ^ OP1-ICCPR, Article 1.
  65. ^ "UN Treaty Collection: Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". United Nations. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  66. ^ OP2-ICCPR, Article 2.1
  67. ^ "UN Treaty Collection: Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty". United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  68. ^ a b U.S. reservations, declarations, and understandings, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 138 Cong. Rec. S4781-01 (daily ed., April 2, 1992).
  69. ^ Act No. 186 of 2011  : Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011, ComLaw
  70. ^ Act No. 186 of 2011, Part 3.
  71. ^ Act No. 186 of 2011, Part 2
  72. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth)". 
  73. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(e)". 
  74. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(j)". 
  75. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(f) i.e. (f)(i) – Conciliation (f)(iI) – Reporting". 
  76. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(n)". 
  77. ^ "a) Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(k) b) Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(m)". 
  78. ^ "Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), schedule 2". 
  79. ^ Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic); Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).
  80. ^ a b c Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
  81. ^ For example, Part 4, Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).[80]
  82. ^ For example, Part 4, Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).[80]
  83. ^ Vines, Timothy and Faunce, Thomas Alured, A Bad Trip for Health-Related Human Rights: Implications of Momcilovic v the Queen (2011) 85 ALJR 957 (2012). (2012) 19 Journal of Law and Medicine 685 <>
  84. ^ Joseph Kavanagh v. Ireland, United Nations Human Rights Committee Communication No. 819/1998, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/71/D/819/1998 (2001).
  85. ^ Black, Allinda; Hopkins, June, eds. (2003). "Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. Hyde Park, New York: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  86. ^ 138 Cong. Rec. S4781-84 (1992)
  87. ^ S. Exec. Rep. No. 102-23 (1992)
  88. ^ Sei Fujii v. State 38 Cal.2d 718, 242 P.2d 617 (1952); also see Buell v. Mitchell 274 F.3d 337 (6th Cir., 2001) (discussing ICCPR's relationship to death penalty cases, citing to other ICCPR cases)
  89. ^ Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, art. 19, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331 (entered into force 27 January 1980) (specifying conditions under which signatory States can offer "reservations")
  90. ^ Yoo, John C. (1999). "Globalism and the Constitution: Treaties, Non-Self-Execution, and the Original Understanding". Colum. L. Rev 99 (8): 1955–2094.  At p. 1959.
  91. ^ Louis Henkin, U.S. Ratification of Human Rights Treaties: The Ghost of Senator Bricker, 89 Am. J. Int’l L. 341, 346 (1995)
  92. ^ Jordan J. Paust, International Law As Law of the United States 375 (2d ed. 2003)
  93. ^ Greene, Jamal. "Hate Speech and the Demos". In Herz, Michael; Molnár, Péter. The Content and Context of Hate Speech: Rethinking Regulation and Responses. Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-521-19109-8. 
  94. ^ Hum. Rts. Comm. General Comment No. 24 (52), para. 11, 18–19, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.6 (1994)
  95. ^ a b Hain v. Gibson, 287 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 2002) (noting that Congress has not done so)
  96. ^ Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Comm.: United States of America, U.N. Doc. No. CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1, para. 10 (2006)
  97. ^ "Human Rights Committee : Sessions". Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  98. ^ a b "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". United Nations Treaty Collection. 2015-09-20. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 

External links[edit]