New York, 16 December 1966
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was codified into two
Covenants, which the General Assembly adopted on 16 December 1966. Together
with the Optional Protocols, they constitute the "International Bill of
Human Rights". The Covenant is a landmark in the efforts of the international
community to promote human rights. It defends the right to life and stipulates
that no individual can be subjected to torture, enslavement, forced labour
and arbitrary detention or be restricted from such freedoms as movement,
expression and association.
The Covenant is divided into six parts. Part I reaffirms the right of self-determination.
Part II formulates general obligations by States parties, notably to implement
the Covenant through legislative and other measures, to provide effective
remedies to victims and to ensure gender equality, and it restricts the
possibility of derogation. Part III spells out the classical civil and
political rights, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture,
the right to liberty and security of person, the right to freedom of movement,
the right to a fair hearing, the right to privacy, the right to freedom
of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, the right
to family life, the rights of children to special protection, the right
to participate in the conduct of public affairs, the over-arching right
to equal treatment, and the special rights of persons belonging to ethnic,
religious and linguistic minorities. Part IV regulates the election of
members of the Human Rights Committee, the State reporting procedure and
the inter-State complaints mechanism. Part V stipulates that nothing in
the Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all
peoples to enjoy and to utilize fully their natural resources. Part VI
provides that the Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States
and sets out the amendment procedure. The Covenant is not subject to denunciation.
The Human Rights Committee monitors implementation by States parties in
a variety of ways. Initial and periodic reports are examined by the plenary,
which formulates concluding observations with concrete recommendations.
In order to assist States parties in preparing reports, the Committee has
formulated 28 general comments, which constitute a commentary on
the provisions of the Covenant. Well in advance of the examination of a
report, the Committee forwards a list of issues to the State party concerned.
The list is prepared by the members and takes into consideration information
received from other United Nations organs and specialized agencies as well
as from non-governmental organizations.
|Entry into force: 23 March 1976
Status as at 15 June 2000: Signatories: 60 Contracting Parties: 144