International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Parties and signatories to the ICCPR:Template:Update after

  signed and ratified
  signed but not ratified
  neither signed nor ratified
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 167[1]
Depositary Secretary General of the United Nations
Languages French, English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at Wikisource

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 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 March 2012, the Covenant had 74 signatories and 167 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 December 10, 1948.[2]

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.[3] 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."[4] The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously.[4] Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Part 1 (Article 1) recognises the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status",[8] 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,[9] and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.[10]

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.[11] 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,"[12] and to ensure that they are enjoyed equally by women.[13] The rights can only be limited "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,"[14] 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.[15]

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 join a political party and 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".[16]

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

Core provisions

Rights to physical integrity

Article 6 of the Covenant recognises the individual's "inherent right to life" and requires it to be protected by law.[17] It is a "supreme right" from which no derogation can be permitted, and must be interpreted widely.[18] 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.[18]

While Article 6 does not prohibit the death penalty, it restricts its application to the "most serious crimes"[19] and forbids it to be used on children and pregnant women[20] or in a manner contrary to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[21] The UN Human Rights Committee interprets the Article as "strongly suggest[ing] that abolition is desirable",[18] and regards any progress towards abolition of the death penalty as advancing this right.[18] 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.[22] As with Article 6, it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances.[15] 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.[23] In response to Nazi human experimentation during WW2 this article explicitly includes a prohibition on medical and scientific experimentation without consent.[22]

Article 8 prohibits slavery and enforced servitude in all situations.[24] The article also prohibits forced labour, with exceptions for criminal punishment, military service and civil obligations.[25]

Liberty and security of person

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

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.[29] It also restricts the use of pre-trial detention,[30] requiring it to be imposed only in exceptional circumstances and for as short a period of time as possible.[28]

Article 10 requires anyone deprived of liberty to be treated with dignity and humanity.[31] This applies not just to prisoners, but also to those detained for immigration purposes or psychiatric care.[32] The right complements the Article 7 prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.[32] 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.[33] It requires prisons to be focused on reform and rehabilitation rather than punishment.[34]

Article 11 prohibits the use of imprisonment as a punishment for breach of contract.[35]

Procedural fairness and rights of the accused

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.[36] 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.[36] These obligations apply to both criminal and civil hearings, and to all courts and tribunals.[37]

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

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.[43]

Article 16 requires states to recognize everyone as a person before the law.[44]

Individual liberties

Article 12 guarantees freedom of movement, including the right of persons to choose their residence and to leave a country.[45] These rights apply to legal aliens as well as citizens of a state,[46] and can be restricted only where necessary to protect national security, public order or health, and the rights and freedoms of others.[47] The article also recognises a right of people to enter their own country.[48] The Human Rights Committee interprets this right broadly as applying not just to citizens, but also to those stripped of or denied their nationality.[46] 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".[46]

Article 13 forbids the arbitrary expulsion of resident aliens and requires such decisions to be able to be appealed and reviewed.[49]

Article 17 mandates the right of privacy.[50] This provision, specifically article 17(1), protects private adult consensual sexual activity, thereby nullifying prohibitions on homosexual behaviour,[51] however, the wording of this covenant's marriage right (Article 23) excludes the extrapolation of a same-sex marriage right from this provision.[52] 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 [50]

Article 18 mandates freedom of religion.[53]

Article 19 mandates freedom of expression.[54]

Article 20 mandates sanctions against inciting hatred.[55]

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.[55][56]

Article 23 mandates the right of marriage.[57] The wording of this provision neither requires nor prohibits same-sex marriage.[58]

Article 24 mandates the right to a nationality.[59]

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.[60]

Political rights

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 dependant 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

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.[61] This has led to the creation of a complex jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Covenant. As of October 2011, the First Optional Protocol has 114 parties.[62]

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.[63] As of December 2010, the Second Optional Protocol had 73 parties.[64]


Forum new.gif This section requires expansion.

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".[65]

National implementation and effects

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 enforceable in Australia, however, AHRC legislation [66] allows the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to examine enacted legislation [67] (to suggest remedial enactments[68]), its administration[69] (to suggest avoidance of practices [70]) and general compliance [71] with the covenant which is schedule to the AHRC legislation.[72]


Ireland's use of Special Criminal Courts where juries are replaced by judges and other special procedures apply has been found to violate the treaty.[73]

New Zealand

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

References in this section could be improved.

Reservations, understandings, and declarations

The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with five reservations, five understandings, and four declarations.[65] Some have noted that with so many reservations, its implementation has little domestic effect.[74] Included in the Senate's ratification was the declaration that "the provisions of Article 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing",[75] 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."[76]

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.[77] Thus while the ICCPR is binding upon the United States as a matter of international law, it does not form part of the domestic law of the nation.

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,[78] there is some issue as to whether the non-self-execution declaration is even legal under domestic law.[79] Taking the opposing view, it is argued by many U.S. Senators and legal scholars that, since for any treaty to be enforceable in the United States, it must strictly conform to the terms of ratification issued by the Senate; and, that no term of any treaty which is subject to the Senate's reservation(s) can be interpreted to have been confirmed, lawful or enforceable in the United States, according to the sovereign operation of the Constitution.[citation needed]

Prominent critics in the human rights community, such as Prof. Louis Henkin[80] (non-self-execution declaration incompatible with the Supremacy Clause) and Prof. Jordan Paust[81] ("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.[82]


In 1994, the United Nations' Human Rights Committee expressed concerns with compliance:[83]

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.[84] Its citizens are not permitted to sue to enforce their basic human rights under the Covenant.[84] It has not ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) [1]. 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:[85]

The Principal subjects of concern and recommendations portion of the of the report spans section 10 through 39 of the report. Section 10 reads as follows:

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.[86]

Parties to the covenant

State Date signed Date ratified, acceded or succeeded Notes
Afghanistan (Islamic Republic of) 24 Jan 1983 Acceded as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Albania (Republic of) 4 Oct 1991
Algeria 10 Dec 1968 12 Sep 1989
Andorra 5 Aug 2002 22 Sep 2006
Angola 10 Jan 1992
Argentine Republic 19 Feb 1968 8 Aug 1986
Armenia 23 Jun 1993
Australia 18 Dec 1972 13 Aug 1980
Austria 10 Dec 1973 10 Sept 1978
Azerbaijan 13 Aug 1992
Bahamas 4 Dec 2008 23 Dec 2008
Bahrain 20 Sept 2006
Bangladesh 6 Sept 2000
Barbados 5 Jan 1973
Belarus 19 Mar 1968 12 Nov 1973 Signed and ratified as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Belgium 10 Dec 1968 21 Apr 1983
Belize 10 Jun 1996
Benin 12 Mar 1992
Bolivia, Plurinational State of 12 Aug 1982 Acceded as the Republic of Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 Sept 1993 Succeeded as Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Botswana 8 Sept 2000 8 Sept 2000
Brazil 12 Dec 1991 24 Jan 1992
Bulgaria 8 Oct 1968 21 Sept 1970 Signed and ratified as the People's Republic of Bulgaria
Burkina Faso 4 Jan 1999
Burundi 9 May 1990
Cambodia 17 Oct 1980 26 May 1992 Signed as Democratic Kampuchea
Cameroon 27 Jun 1984
Canada 19 May 1976
Cape Verde 6 Aug 1993
Central African Republic 8 May 1981
Chad 9 Jun 1995
Chile 16 Sep 1969 10 Feb 1972
China, People's Republic of 5 Oct 1998 Republic of China had signed on 5 October 1967
Colombia 21 Dec 1966 29 Oct 1969
Comoros 25 Sep 2008
Congo 5 Oct 1983 Ratified as the People's Republic of the Congo
Costa Rica 19 Dec 1966 29 Nov 1968
Côte d'Ivoire 26 Mar 1992
Republic of Croatia Oct 12 1992 Succeeded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Cuba 28 Feb 2008
Cyprus 19 Dec 1966 2 Apr 1969
Czech Republic 22 Feb 1993 Signed 7 October 1968 and ratified 23 December 1975 as Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of 14 Sept 1981 Sought withdrawal on 25 August 1997 but Secretariat stated Covenant has no withdrawal provision so could not withdraw without approval of all states
Congo, Democratic Republic of 1 Nov 1976 Ratified as the Republic of Zaire
Denmark 20 Mar 1968 6 Jan 1972
Djibouti 5 Nov 2002
Dominica 17 Jun 1993
Dominican Republic 4 Jan 1978
Ecuador 4 Apr 1968 6 Mar 1969
Egypt, Arab Republic of 4 Aug 1967 14 Jan 1982 Signed as the United Arab Republic
El Salvador 21 Sept 1967 30 Nov 1979
Equatorial Guinea 25 Sept 1987
Eritrea 22 Jan 2002
Estonia 21 Oct 1991
Ethiopia 11 Jun 1993
Finland 11 Oct 1967 19 Aug 1975
France 4 Nov 1980
Gabon 21 Jan 1983
Gambia 22 Mar 1979
Georgia, Republic of 3 May 1994
Germany, Federal Republic of 9 Oct 1968 17 Dec 1973 The German Democratic Republic had signed on 23 March 1973 and ratified on 8 November 1973 the Covenant with reservations and declarations
Ghana 7 Sept 2000 7 Sep 2000
Greece 5 May 1997
Grenada 6 Sept 1991
Guatemala 5 May 1992
Guinea 28 Feb 1967 24 Jan 1978
Guinea-Bissau 12 Sept 2000 1 Nov 2010
Guyana 22 Aug 1968 15 Feb 1977
Haiti 6 Feb 1991
Honduras 19 Dec 1966 25 Aug 1997
Hungary 25 Mar 1969 17 Jan 1974 Signed and ratified as the People's Republic of Hungary
Iceland 30 Dec 1968 22 Aug 1979
India 10 Apr 1979
Indonesia 23 Feb 2006
Iran, Islamic Republic of 4 Apr 1968 24 Jun 1975 Signed and ratified as Empire of Iran
Iraq 18 Feb 1969 25 Jan 1971
Ireland 1 Oct 1973 8 Dec 1989
Israel 19 Dec 1966 3 Oct 1991
Italy 18 Jan 1967 15 Sept 1978
Jamaica 19 Dec 1966 3 Oct 1975
Japan 30 May 1978 21 Jun 1979
Jordan 30 Jun 1972 28 May 1975
Kazakhstan 2 Dec 2003 24 Jan 2006
Kenya 1 May 1972
Kuwait 21 May 1996
Kyrgyzstan 7 Oct 1994
Lao People's Democratic Republic 7 Dec 2000 25 Sept 2009
Latvia 14 Apr 1992
Lebanon 3 Nov 1972
Lesotho 9 Sept 1992
Liberia 18 Apr 1967 22 Sept 2004
Libya 15 May 1970 Signed and ratified as the Libyan Arab Republic
Liechtenstein 10 Dec 1998
Lithuania 20 Nov 1991
Luxembourg 26 Nov 1974 18 Aug 1983
Madagascar 17 Sept 1969 21 Jun 1971 Signed and ratified as the Malagasy Republic
Malawi 22 Dec 1993
Maldives 19 Sept 2006
Mali 16 Jul 1974
Malta 13 Sept 1990
Mauritania, Islamic Republic of 17 Nov 2004
Mauritius 12 Dec 1973
Mexico 23 Mar 1981
Monaco 26 Jun 1997 28 Aug 1997
Mongolia 5 Jun 1968 18 Nov 1974 Signed and ratified as the Mongolian People's Republic
Montenegro 23 Oct 2006
Morocco 19 Jan 1977 3 May 1979
Mozambique 21 Jul 1993
Namibia 28 Nov 1994
Nauru 12 Nov 2001
Nepal 14 May 1991 Signed as the Kingdom of Nepal
Netherlands 25 Jun 1969 11 Dec 1978
New Zealand 12 Nov 1968 28 Dec 1978
Nicaragua 12 Mar 1980
Niger 7 Mar 1986
Nigeria 29 Jul 1993
Norway 20 Mar 1968 13 Sep 1972
Pakistan 17 Apr 2008 23 Jun 2010
Palau 20 Sept 2011
Panama 27 Jul 1976 8 Mar 1977
Papua New Guinea 21 Jul 2008
Paraguay 10 Jun 1992
Peru 11 Aug 1977 28 Apr 1978
Philippines 19 Dec 1966 23 Oct 1986
Poland 2 Mar 1967 18 Mar 1977 Signed and ratified as the People's Republic of Poland
Portugal 7 Oct 1976 15 Jun 1978
Korea, Republic of 10 Apr 1990
Moldova 26 Jan 1993
Romania 27 Jun 1968 9 Dec 1974
Russian Federation 18 Mar 1968 16 Oct 1973 Succeeded from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Rwanda 16 Apr 1975
Samoa 15 Feb 2008
San Marino 18 Oct 1985
Sao Tome and Principe 31 Oct 1995
Senegal 6 Jul 1970 13 Feb 1978
Serbia 12 Mar 2001 The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971
Seychelles 5 May 1992
Sierra Leone 23 Aug 1996
Slovakia 28 May 1993 Signed 7 October 1968 and ratified 23 December 1975 as Czechoslovakia
Slovenia 6 Jul 1992 The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971
Somalia 24 Jan 1990
South Africa 3 Oct 1994 10 Dec 1998
Spain 28 Sep 1976 27 Apr 1977
Sri Lanka 11 Jun 1980
St. Lucia 22 Sep 2011
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 9 Nov 1981
Sudan 18 Mar 1986 Acceded as the Democratic Republic of Sudan
Suriname 28 Dec 1976
Swaziland 26 Mar 2004
Sweden 29 Sept 1967 6 Dec 1971
Switzerland 18 Jun 1992
Syrian Arab Republic 21 Apr 1969
Tajikistan 4 Jan 1999
Thailand 29 Oct 1996
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 18 Jan 1994 The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971
Timor-Leste 18 Sep 2003
Togolese Republic 24 May 1984
Trinidad and Tobago 21 Dec 1978
Tunisia 30 Apr 1968 18 Mar 1969
Turkey (Republic of) 15 Aug 2000 23 Sept 2003
Turkmenistan 1 May 1997
Uganda 21 Jun 1995
Ukraine 20 Mar 1968 12 Nov 1973 Signed and ratified as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 16 Sept 1968 20 May 1976
Tanzania 11 Jun 1976
United States of America 5 Oct 1977 8 Jun 1992
Uruguay 21 Feb 1967 1 Apr 1970
Uzbekistan 28 Sept 1995
Vanuatu 29 Nov 2007 21 Nov 2008
Venezuela 24 Jun 1969 10 May 1978
Vietnam 24 Sept 1982
Yemen 9 Feb 1987
Zambia 10 Apr 1984
Zimbabwe 13 May 1991


On August 23, 1997 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea drafted a notification of withdrawal from the Covenant. On September 23 the Secretary-General forwarded an aide-mémoire Wp→ to the government of the DPRK and the other signatories stating that, since the covenant did not contain a mechanism for withdrawal it would not be possible for the DPRK to leave the covenant except with the agreement of all other state parties.[87]

States not members of the Covenant

The majority of states in the world are parties to the ICCPR. As of March 2012 the following 25 states have either not yet signed the convention, or have signed but have not yet ratified the convention.[88]

Signed but not ratified

  1.  People's Republic of China (1998-10-05)[notes 1]
  2.  Comoros (2008-09-25)
  3.  Cuba (2008-02-28)
  4.  Nauru (2001-11-12)
  5.  Palau (2011-09-20)
  6.  São Tomé and Príncipe (1995-10-31)
  7.  Saint Lucia (2011-09-22)

Neither signed nor ratified

  1.  Antigua and Barbuda
  2.  Bhutan
  3.  Brunei
  4.  Burma (Myanmar)
  5.  Fiji
  6.  Kiribati
  7.  Malaysia
  8.  Marshall Islands
  9.  Federated States of Micronesia
  10.  Oman
  11.  Qatar
  12.  Saint Kitts and Nevis
  13.  Saudi Arabia
  14.  Singapore
  15.  Solomon Islands
  16.  Tonga
  17.  Tuvalu
  18.  United Arab Emirates

Non-members of the UN

  1.  Taiwan (Republic of China)[notes 2]
  2.  Kosovo [notes 3]
  3.  Vatican City (through the Holy See)[notes 4]


  1. Except the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, in which the ICCPR is binding. See Human rights in Hong Kong.
  2. The ROC lost its United Nations seat in 1971 (replaced as the representative of China by the People's Republic of China under Resolution 2758). The Republic of China government signed the Covenant in 1967 but did not ratify; in 2009 Taiwan finally ratified it, but the deposit was rejected by the UN.
  3. Kosovo, although not a UN member state, is obliged in international law to respect the ICCPR as as it was part of the former Yugoslavia which signed and ratified the convention before its dissolution. Kosovo has recognised that obligation in its own legal order through its acceptance of the Ahtisaari Plan and by article 22(1) of its 2008 constitution.[89][90]
  4. The Vatican is not a member of the United Nations though it holds observer status.

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 UN Treaty Collection: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. United Nations. URL accessed on 2012-03-06.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 (1996). Fact Sheet No.2 (Rev.1), The International Bill of Human Rights. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2008-06-02.
  3. Sieghart, Paul (1983). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 25. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 543, February 5, 1952.
  5. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 545, February 5, 1952.
  6. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200, December 16, 1966.
  7. The following section summarises the text of the Covenant.
  8. ICCPR, Article 1.1.
  9. ICCPR, Article 1.2.
  10. ICCPR, Article 1.3.
  11. ICCPR, Article 2.2, 2.3.
  12. ICCPR, Article 2.1.
  13. ICCPR, Article 3.
  14. ICCPR, Article 4.1.
  15. 15.0 15.1 ICCPR, Article 4.2.
  16. ICCPR, Article 47.
  17. ICCPR, Article 6.1.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 CCPR General Comment No. 6: The right to life. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  19. ICCPR, Article 6.2.
  20. ICCPR, Article 6.5.
  21. ICCPR, Article 6.3.
  22. 22.0 22.1 ICCPR, Article 7.
  23. CCPR General Comment No. 20: Replaces general comment 7 concerning prohibition of torture and cruel treatment or punishment. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  24. ICCPR, Articles 8.1, 8.2.
  25. ICCPR, Article 8.3.
  26. ICCPR, Article 9.1.
  27. ICCPR, Article 9.4.
  28. 28.0 28.1 CCPR General Comment No. 08: Right to liberty and security of persons. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  29. ICCPR, Articles 9.2, 9.3.
  30. ICCPR, Article 9.3.
  31. ICCPR, Article 10.1.
  32. 32.0 32.1 General Comment No. 21: Replaces general comment 9 concerning humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  33. ICCPR, Article 10.2.
  34. ICCPR, Article 10.3.
  35. ICCPR, Article 11.
  36. 36.0 36.1 ICCPR, Article 14.1.
  37. 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. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  38. ICCPR, Article 14.2.
  39. ICCPR, Article 14.7.
  40. ICCPR, Article 14.5.
  41. ICCPR, Article 14.6.
  42. ICCPR, Article 14.3.
  43. ICCPR, Article 15.
  44. ICCPR, Article 16.
  45. ICCPR, Article 12.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 CCPR: General Comment No. 27: Freedom of movement. UN OHCHR. URL accessed on 2010-10-10.
  47. ICCPR, Article 12.3.
  48. ICCPR, Article 12.4.
  49. ICCPR, Article 13.
  50. 50.0 50.1 ICCPR, Article 17.
  51. Toonen v Australia Communication No. 488/1992 (1994) U.N. Doc CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992 at [8.1-8.6].
  52. Joslin v New Zealand (2002) Comm. No. 902/1999 U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002) at [Appendix (My Lallah & Mr Scheinen)].
  53. ICCPR, Article 18.
  54. ICCPR, Article 19.
  55. 55.0 55.1 ICCPR, Article 20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Art20" defined multiple times with different content
  56. ICCPR, Article 22.
  57. ICCPR, Article 23.
  58. 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 & Scheimin JJ] Joslin v New Zealand (2002) Comm. No. 902/1999 U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002).
  59. ICCPR, Article 24.
  60. ICCPR, Ariticle 27.
  61. OP1-ICCPR, Article 1.
  62. UN Treaty Collection: Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. United Nations. URL accessed on 2011-10-14.
  63. OP2-ICCPR, Article 2.1
  64. 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. URL accessed on 2009-10-12.
  65. 65.0 65.1 U.S. reservations, declarations, and understandings, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 138 Cong. Rec. S4781-01 (daily ed., April 2, 1992).
  66. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth).
  67. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(e).
  68. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(j).
  69. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(f) i.e. (f)(i) - Conciliation (f)(iI) - Reporting.
  70. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(n).
  71. a) Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(k) b) Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), s11(m).
  72. Australian Human Rights Commission 1986 (Cth), schedule 2.
  73. Joseph Kavanagh v. Ireland, United Nations Human Rights Committee Communication No. 819/1998, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/71/D/819/1998 (2001).
  74. (2003). Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. URL accessed on February 21, 2009.
  75. 138 Cong. Rec. S4781-84 (1992)
  76. S. Exec. Rep. No. 102-23 (1992)
  77. 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)
  78. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, art. 19, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331 (entered into force Jan. 27, 1980) (specifying conditions under which signatory States can offer "reservations")
  79. 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.
  80. Louis Henkin, U.S. Ratification of Human Rights Treaties: The Ghost of Senator Bricker, 89 Am. J. Int’l L. 341, 346 (1995)
  81. Jordan J. Paust, International Law As Law Of the United States 375 (2d ed. 2003)
  82. 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. . 
  83. Hum. Rts. Comm. General Comment No. 24 (52), para. 11, 18–19, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.6 (1994)
  84. 84.0 84.1 Hain v. Gibson, 287 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 2002) (noting that Congress has not done so)
  85. 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)
  86. Human Rights Committee : Sessions. URL accessed on 25 February 2013.
  88. Status of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , United Nations Treaty Collection, March 9, 2009.
  89. Kosovo Declaration of Independence, February 17, 2008
  90. Constitution of Kosovo (2008).

External links

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