international convention of civil and political rights pdf

International Convention Of Civil And Political Rights Pdf

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Both covenants have been widely ratified by the vast majority of African States.

The work of formalizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a legally binding international treaty eventually resulted in two separate treaties. The ICCPR is one of the two, and embodies fundamental human rights as traditionally understood, such as self-determination, freedom from discrimination, freedom of movement, and prohibitions on torture or inhuman treatment. Skip to main content. Report of the Third Committee A Carlos Manuel Cox Peru A

The Influence of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa

Both covenants have been widely ratified by the vast majority of African States. However, a largely neglected area of study has been assessing the influence of the ICESCR in various parts of the world including Africa.

The article begins by considering the influence of the Covenant on the regional protection of human rights in Africa. This is followed by an analysis of the influence of the Covenant on the protection of ESC rights in domestic legal systems in Africa focusing primarily on the constitutional protection of ESC rights. Footnote 4 Eighteen more African States ratified the Covenant between to Footnote 5 The remaining 23 African States ratified the Covenant from following increased global attention to the principle of universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of all human rights Footnote 6 and the adoption of new democratic and liberal constitutions in Africa, Footnote 7 protecting some ESC rights alongside civil and political rights.

Footnote 9 The Covenant, therefore, enjoys widespread support in Africa at least viewed in terms of ratification. The article, therefore, seeks to examine the following questions. What has been the influence of the Covenant on the protection of human rights in Africa at both regional and domestic levels?

Has the Covenant had any influence on the African regional human rights instruments? The influence of the Covenant can be said to come about where something from the Covenant flows into and thereby affects the protection of ESC rights in Africa.

This may be reflected in citations of the Covenant by courts and tribunals, treaty provisions or national legislation or policy concluded on the basis of the ICESCR, development of new norms based on the Covenant, such as the right to development, and whether the Covenant has affected human rights teaching, practice, and policy in Africa. It is widely accepted that the ratification of international human rights treaties is meaningful if the rights guaranteed in relevant treaties have an effect upon domestic national or municipal protection of human rights, and effective remedies for violations of the protected rights are available and accessible, at the domestic level.

Footnote To place the Covenant in the African regional human rights context, the article begins by discussing in Sect. It then goes on to examine in Sect. The article ends in Sect.

The African Charter in Articles 15—19 explicitly recognises the following rights, which are protected in the ICESCR: the right of self-determination; the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions; the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health; the right to education; the protection of the family, and cultural rights.

Accordingly, the Charter has been interpreted as recognising implicitly other ESC rights protected by the ICESCR but not explicitly stated in the Charter, for example the right to an adequate standard of living adequate food, clothing, housing, water and sanitation , the right to social security, the right to rest and leisure, and the right to form and join trade unions. The content of some treaty provisions protecting ESC rights in other later African Union regional human rights treaties protecting specific vulnerable groups, such as children, women, the youth, internally displaced persons, older persons and persons with disabilities were heavily influenced, at least in part, by the ICESCR.

Footnote 36 In this case the Court found, inter alia , that the Republic of Kenya interfered with the enjoyment of the right to culture of the Ogiek population by evicting them from the Mau Forest in Kenya, thereby, restricting them from exercising their cultural activities and practices, in violation of Article 17 2 and 3 of the African Charter. In arriving at this conclusion, the Court specifically relied on the CESCR General Comment 21 paragraphs 36—37 to interpret the right to take part in cultural life under article 17 of the African Charter observing that:.

As a result, the Court accepted that the Ogiek population as Indigenous Peoples had the right to occupy their ancestral lands in the Mau Forest, as well as the right to use and enjoy the said lands. Without such a declaration, the Court manifestly lacks jurisdiction to receive cases from individuals and NGOs alleging violations of ESC rights against several States.

The African Commission has thus interpreted civil and political rights broadly to include ESC rights. Footnote 52 Thus, the Commission has noted that violations of ESC rights may in certain circumstances also entail violations of the right to life.

The next section examines the influence of the ICESCR on domestic legal regimes in Africa with particular emphasis on the whether the Covenant has influenced the constitutional protection of human rights.

Although many African States are notoriously late submitting their reports to the CESCR, it is crucial to note that the Committee has made several important recommendations on the domestic implementation of ESC rights in several African States.

This section begins by examining whether the rights protected in the ICESCR are part of domestic constitutions in Africa followed by an evaluation of domestic approaches to the application of the ICESCR in Africa, in States applying dualist and monist approaches to international treaties in Africa. Some African States have adopted constitutional provisions in the post era, usually after becoming State parties to the ICESCR, according priority to the provisions of international human rights treaties, including the ICESCR, over any inconsistent domestic laws.

Footnote 60 Other States have transformed some rights protected in the Covenant into domestic law by supplementing or amending existing national constitutions and ordinary legislation, without invoking the specific terms of the Covenant.

Due to weak parliamentary institutions in most of Africa overly dependent on the executive, there is lack of domesticating legislation of international human rights treaties including the ICESCR.

Judges do not frequently rely on or reference to the ICESCR in their judgments in national cases, and only in the rarest of occasions do they refer to the jurisprudence general comments, concluding observations, and views of the CESCR. As noted above, while the Committee has made several important recommendations on the implementation of ESC rights in several African States, Footnote 61 the influence of these recommendations in Africa generally remains limited since most of them remain unimplemented or unduly delayed.

This is partly because of lack of political will to comply with the recommendations of international quasi -judicial bodies. Footnote 62 This is worsened by the lack of effective follow-up with the concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee concerning previous reports.

Footnote 64 Moreover, even a few States Nigeria and Benin Footnote 65 which have expressly given domestic effect to the African Charter Footnote 66 still consider most ESC rights, including the right to free and compulsory primary education, as non-justiciable directive principles of State policy.

As a matter of international law, every State party to a treaty without reservations including every State organ, e. Footnote 72 The ICESCR does not specify the specific means by which it is to be given effect or implemented in the national legal order.

First, it has been applied as a source of interpretation in some court judgments. Second, it has influenced the content of ESC rights in national constitutions. Footnote 79 Third, it has specifically been referred to as a source of law in some national constitutions and this has in turn influenced the adoption of some ordinary legislation and policies essential to ESC rights.

Generally dualist theoretical approach to the relationship between international and national law takes the view that international law regulates the relations between States whereas national law regulates the rights and obligations of individuals within a State. Footnote 85 The dualist approach takes the view that international courts apply international law while domestic courts are obliged to apply domestic law and not international treaties, or at least that it is for the national court to decide which rule to apply.

Footnote 86 Thus, international treaties such as the ICESCR, in whole or in part, are not applicable in any national legal system and thus not ordinarily enforceable by the courts unless they have been incorporated into national law through incorporation or reception by legislation in force to give effect to them.

Footnote 87 The rationale for the dualist theory is to prevent the Executive from being able to create law without observing the domestic constitutional requirements necessary for law making i. Furthermore, the influence of the Covenant has also depended on judicial attitude to the application of international treaties by domestic courts. Footnote 95 This non-domestication approach also generally applied to other international and regional human rights treaties.

Footnote Given increased attention to the need to address widespread poverty, inequitable distribution of resources and systematic or widespread violations of ESC rights e.

For this reason, there has been no ESC rights jurisprudence to discuss in this article. However, domestic courts in Africa have handed down significant judgments protecting some aspects of ESC rights. Footnote Despite these developments, most domestic courts in Africa do not always take into account the ICESCR when interpreting and applying domestic law. Every Swazi child shall within three years of the commencement of this Constitution have the right to free education in public schools at least up to the end of primary school, beginning with the first grade.

The Supreme Court of Swaziland, contrary to the ICESCR, Footnote held that the right to education including primary education could only be progressively realised subject to the availability of resources.

Footnote Thus schools continued to levy compulsory parental contribution indirect costs for primary education, such as payment for school uniforms, which restrict access to primary education for children from families with high levels of poverty, particularly for girls.

Footnote This general approach involving the use of international treaties to interpret ambiguous domestic law has also been used by other domestic courts in Africa. It is particularly instructive to note that domestic courts in South Africa and Kenya have adjudicated significant cases on ESC rights. Footnote The Constitution contains two important international law-friendly interpretive provisions. On the basis of the relevant constitutional provisions, the South African Constitutional Court has developed useful jurisprudence on the justiciability of ESC rights based on the model of reasonableness review with particular reference to the rights of access to health care, adequate housing, water, electricity, basic sanitation and education.

Footnote Second, if steps or measures taken by the government are unreasonable e. Instead the Court has preferred a high level of deference to the legislature and executive. Footnote According to the Court:. According to the Court:. This is a matter, in the first place, for the legislature and executive, the institutions of government best placed to investigate social conditions in the light of available budgets and to determine what targets are achievable in relation to social and economic rights.

Indeed, it is desirable as a matter of democratic accountability that they should do so for it is their programmes and promises that are subjected to democratic popular choice. This means that there is no clear guidance regarding State obligations and entitlements for individuals and groups.

The influence of the ICESCR in South African can also be discerned from the constitutional protection of the right to education and how this right has been enforced by courts. The South African example of constitutional protection of justiciable ESC rights and judicial enforcement of these rights has been followed in other African States in particular in Kenya.

Footnote It also demonstrated that judicial or quasi-judicial bodies can consider and determine claims submitted by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals, claiming to be victims of a violation of any of the ESC right protected in the ICESCR.

This partly influenced the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR which provides for the competence of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to receive and consider communications by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals. This would in turn contribute to the development of international jurisprudence on ESC rights. Footnote The Constitution guarantees every person a right to the highest attainable standard of health, accessible and adequate housing, reasonable standards of sanitation, freedom from hunger, adequate food of acceptable quality, clean and safe water in adequate quantities, social security and education.

Footnote This provides a strong legal basis for courts to consider whether the measures or policies taken by the State or any State organ, if any, with respect to ESC rights e.

Footnote For example, the Court has relied directly on Article 12 ICESCR and the CESCR General Comment 14 on the right to health and General Comment 17 on the right of Everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author to interpret the scope of the right to health in Kenya. Monism emphasises that national and international law form one single legal order, or at least a number of interlocking orders which should be presumed to be coherent and consistent.

Footnote Accordingly in States applying monism to international treaties, a treaty such as the ICESCR may, without legislation, become part of domestic law and can be applied directly within the national legal order once it has been concluded in accordance with the constitution and has entered into force for the State. In cases of conflict, national courts should give effect to international law. Footnote Treaties in such States are, in theory, superior to supersede ordinary legislation but subject to the Constitution.

Footnote In this context, the ICESCR has not been used as a source of directly enforceable rights or a source of inspiration in the interpretation of relevant domestic law in court judgments as judges tend to rely on domestic legislation which is inadequate to implement the rights guaranteed under the ICESCR with which they are more familiar. Footnote Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that national human rights institutions do not concentrate solely on civil and political rights, but accord equal weight and attention to ESC rights.

For example, the Constitution of Rwanda protects several ESC rights including rights to free choice of employment, equal pay for equal work, form trade unions, strike, education and health. Footnote It further provides that international treaties and agreements have precedence over domestic laws Footnote and thus can be applied directly in the domestic legal order. However, the influence of the ICESCR in Rwanda has been limited by the absence of cases of invocation before, or direct or indirect application of the Covenant by, domestic courts or tribunals.

The observation above failure to the invoke the ICESCR before or apply it by national courts and the recommendation above direct applicability of the ICESCR by promoting it, inter alia , among judges and the general population at large appear in several other CESCR concluding observations on African State reports, Footnote as most recently exemplified by the following observations with respect to Burundi:.

The Committee finds it regrettable that, despite the constitutional standing of the Covenant, its provisions have never been invoked before or applied by national courts.

The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the direct applicability of the Covenant by promoting among judges, attorneys, public officials and other officials responsible for application of the Covenant, as well as among rights holders, an awareness of the content of the Covenant and of the possibility of invoking it in the justice system… Footnote It follows from the foregoing that constitutional provisions providing for the direct applicability of the ICESCR do not necessarily give rise to the application of the Covenant by national courts and tribunals.

States should take measure such as specialised training for judges, magistrates and parliamentarians to promote the domestic implementation of the Covenant by national authorities. In addition, NGOs should pursue cases involving systematic violations of ESC rights in the public interest in order to protect the underprivileged and marginalised populations in society.

This will help national courts to apply the ICESCR in interpreting domestic law in order to develop the content of ESC rights and to define the nature of obligations of both States and non-State actors. As noted above, the Covenant influenced the explicit protection of ESC rights in the African Charter and in several constitutions in Africa.

Nevertheless, ESC rights have still not attained the same level of protection extended to civil and political rights in the constitutions of many African States.

There are still several factors limiting the realisation of ESC rights in Africa including non-compliance with domestic court rulings in favour of ESC rights, Footnote political authoritarianism, high levels of corruption, Footnote poverty, Footnote armed conflicts, limited engagement of NGOs and civil society as well as lack of respect for the rule of law Footnote including lack of respect for international and regional quasi- judicial bodies, Footnote as reflected in African States non-compliance with the recommendations of the African Commission, non-compliance with the judgments and orders of the African Court, Footnote and non-compliance by African States e.

Prempeh , pp. Heyns and Kaguongo , pp. See Anuak Justice Council v. Ethiopia , Communication No. Hathaway , p. Goodman and Jinks p.

FAQ: The Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR)

Jump to navigation Skip navigation. The ICCPR is a key international human rights treaty, providing a range of protections for civil and political rights. The ICCPR obligates countries that have ratified the treaty to protect and preserve basic human rights, such as: the right to life and human dignity; equality before the law; freedom of speech, assembly, and association; religious freedom and privacy; freedom from torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary detention; gender equality; the right to a fair trial; right family life and family unity; and minority rights. The Covenant compels governments to take administrative, judicial, and legislative measures in order to protect the rights enshrined in the treaty and to provide an effective remedy. The Covenant was adopted by the U. General Assembly in and came into force in

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an ideal standard held in common by nations around the world, but it bears no force of law. Both became international law in Both covenants proclaim these rights for all people and forbid discrimination. Composed of eighteen human rights experts, the Committee is responsible for ensuring that each signatory to the ICCPR complies with its terms. Many countries that ratified the ICCPR also agreed that the Human Rights Committee may investigate allegations by individuals and organizations that the State has violated their rights. Before appealing to the Committee, the complainant must exhaust all legal recourse in the courts of that country. After investigation, the Committee publishes the results.


human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions.


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Individuals who experience human rights violations are often left without legal remedies. During , the Australian Government undertook a National Human Rights Consultation, seeking a broad range of views regarding the protection and promotion of human rights. The Commission, and thousands of other individuals and organisations, contributed to the Consultation. Although Australia was the first nation to develop a Human Rights Action Plan in , following the World Conference on Human Rights , this Action Plan and its update have been widely acknowledged as having had very limited impact. In the development of a new Action Plan, [5] the Australian Government has followed a much improved process, with substantially increased conformity with the Handbook on National Human Rights Action Plans available from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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. 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 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.

The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases arts. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.

Ministry of Justice

This essay deals with social, economic and cultural rights and political and civil rights within the context of international law on human rights. To this end, it reviews the contemporary conception of this issue in the light of the international system of protection, evaluating its profile, its objectives, its logic and its principles, and questioning the feasibility of an integrated vision of human rights. This is followed by an evaluation of the main challenges and prospects for the implementation of these rights, claiming that facing this challenge is essential to ensure that human rights will take on their central role in the contemporary order. How to understand the contemporary formulation of human rights. Human rights come into being as and when they are able and required to do so.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICCPR is a multilateral human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in , now with about state parties, and, since , in force as foundational source of international human rights law and regimes. The two Covenants can be seen as substantive amplifications of the UDHR that, as treaties, create bona fide international law for human rights enumerated in the resolution that is the Declaration. The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights parallels the structure of the other components of the IBR, with a Preamble linking the treaty to basic principles promulgated in the United Nations Charter, followed by articles stating both some general provisions and enumerating specific human rights. Articles 46—47 , and their own means of subsistence.


in volume Vol. , Page 4. United Nations — Treaty Series.


The ICCPR recognizes the inherent dignity of each individual and undertakes to promote conditions within states to allow the enjoyment of civil and political rights. The unifying themes and values of the ICCPR are found in Articles 2 and 3 and are based on the notion of non-discrimination. Article 2 ensures that rights recognized in the ICCPR will be respected and be available to everyone within the territory of those states who have ratified the Covenant State Party.

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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – List of issues prior to reporting

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