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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 2200A (XXI) on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976 in accordance with Article 49 of the covenant. Article 49 allowed that the covenant would enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession. The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.[11] As of August 2017, the Covenant has 172 parties and six more signatories without ratification.[9]

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).[12]

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.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
TypeUnited Nations General Assembly Resolution
Signed16 December 1966[9]
LocationUnited Nations Headquarters, New York
Effective23 March 1976[9]
DepositarySecretary General of the United Nations
LanguagesFrench, English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish[10]
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The ICCPR has its roots in the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[13] 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.[12] 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.[12]

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.[14]

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.[15] 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."[16] The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously.[16] Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.[17]

The first document became the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the second the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The drafts were presented to the UN General Assembly for discussion in 1954, and adopted in 1966.[18] As a result of diplomatic negotiations the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted shortly before the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Together, the UDHR and the two Covenants are considered to be the foundational human rights texts in the contemporary international system of human rights.[13]

Articles of the Covenant

The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and ICESCR, with a preamble and fifty-three articles, divided into six parts.[19]

Part 1 (Article 1) recognizes the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status",[20] 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,[21] and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.[22]

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.[23] 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,"[24] and to ensure that they are enjoyed equally by women.[25] The rights can only be limited "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,"[26] 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.[27]

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".[28]

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

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.[29] It is a "supreme right" from which no derogation can be permitted, and must be interpreted widely.[30] 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.[30]

While Article 6 does not prohibit the death penalty, it restricts its application to the "most serious crimes"[31] and forbids it to be used on children and pregnant women[32] or in a manner contrary to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[33] The UN Human Rights Committee interprets the Article as "strongly suggest[ing] that abolition is desirable",[30] and regards any progress towards abolition of the death penalty as advancing this right.[30] 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.[34] As with Article 6, it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances.[27] 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.[35] In response to Nazi human experimentation during WW2 this article explicitly includes a prohibition on medical and scientific experimentation without consent.[34]

Article 8 prohibits slavery and enforced servitude in all situations.[36] The article also prohibits forced labour, with exceptions for criminal punishment, military service and civil obligations.[37]

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,[38] and obliges parties to allow those deprived of their liberty to challenge their imprisonment through the courts.[39] 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.[40]

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.[41] It also restricts the use of pre-trial detention,[42] requiring that it not be 'the general rule'.[40]

Article 10 requires anyone deprived of liberty to be treated with dignity and humanity.[43] This applies not just to prisoners, but also to those detained for immigration purposes or psychiatric care.[44] The right complements the Article 7 prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.[44] 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.[45] It requires prisons to be focused on reform and rehabilitation rather than punishment.[46]

Article 11 prohibits the use of imprisonment as a punishment for breach of contract.[47]

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.[48] 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.[48] These obligations apply to both criminal and civil hearings, and to all courts and tribunals.[49] Article 14.3 mandates that litigants must be informed promptly and in detail in a language which they understand.[50]

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[51] and forbids double jeopardy.[52] It requires that those convicted of a crime be allowed to appeal to a higher tribunal,[53] and requires victims of a Miscarriage of justice to be compensated.[54] It establishes rights to a speedy trial, to counsel, against self-incrimination, and for the accused to be present and call and examine witnesses.[55]

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.[56] But except the criminal according to general principles of law recognized by international community.[57] (jus cogens)

Article 16 requires states to recognize everyone as a person before the law.[58]

Individual liberties

Article 12 guarantees freedom of movement, including the right of persons to choose their residence, to leave and return to a country.[59] These rights apply to legal aliens as well as citizens of a state,[60] and can be restricted only where necessary to protect national security, public order or health, and the rights and freedoms of others.[61] The article also recognises a right of people to enter their own country; the right of return.[62] The Human Rights Committee interprets this right broadly as applying not just to citizens, but also to those stripped of or denied their nationality.[60] 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".[60]

Article 13 forbids the arbitrary expulsion of resident aliens and requires such decisions to be able to be appealed and reviewed.[63]

Article 17 mandates the right of privacy.[64] This provision, specifically article 17(1), protects private adult consensual sexual activity, thereby nullifying prohibitions on homosexual behaviour,[65] however, the wording of this covenant's marriage right (Article 23) excludes the extrapolation of a same-sex marriage right from this provision.[66] 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.[64]

Article 18 mandates freedom of religion or belief.[67]

Article 19 mandates freedom of expression.[68]

Article 20 mandates sanctions against inciting war and hatred.[69]

Article 21 mandates freedom of assembly and 22 mandates freedom of association. These provisions guarantee the right to freedom of association, the right to trade unions and also defines the International Labour Organization.[70][71]

Article 23 mandates the right of marriage.[72] The wording of this provision neither requires nor prohibits same-sex marriage.[73]

Article 24 mandates special protection, the right to a name, and the right to a nationality for every child.[74]

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.[75]

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 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

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.[76] 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 116 parties.[77]

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.[78] As of December 2017, the Second Optional Protocol had 85 parties.[79]


A number of parties have made reservations and interpretative declarations to their application of the Covenant.[80]

Argentina will apply the fair trial rights guaranteed in its constitution to the prosecution of those accused of violating the general law of nations.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9]

Bahamas, due to problems with implementation, reserves the right not to compensate for miscarriages of justice.[9]

Bahrain interprets Articles 3 (no sexual discrimination), 18 (freedom of religion) and 23 (family rights) within the context of Islamic Sharia law.[9]

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.[9]

Barbados reserves the right not to provide free counsel for accused persons due to resource constraints.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9]

The Gambia, as per its constitution, will provide free legal assistance for accused persons charged with capital offences only.[9]

Pakistan, has made several reservations to the articles in the Convention; "the provisions of Articles 3, 6, 7, 18 and 19 shall be so applied to the extent that they are not repugnant to the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan and the Sharia laws", "the provisions of Article 12 shall be so applied as to be in conformity with the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan", "With respect to Article 13, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan reserves its right to apply its law relating to foreigners", "the provisions of Article 25 shall be so applied to the extent that they are not repugnant to the Provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan" and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan "does not recognize the competence of the Committee provided for in Article 40 of the Covenant".

The United States has made reservations that none of the articles should restrict the right of free speech and association; that the US government may impose capital punishment on any person other than a pregnant woman, including persons below the age of 18; that "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment" refers to those treatments or punishments prohibited by one or more of the fifth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments to the US Constitution; that Paragraph 1, Article 15 will not apply; and that, notwithstanding paragraphs 2(b) and 3 of Article 10 and paragraph 4 of Article 14, the US government may treat juveniles as adults, and accept volunteers to the military prior to the age of 18. The United States also submitted five "understandings", and four "declarations".[81]

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.[9]


The Covenant is not directly enforceable in Australia, but its provisions support a number of domestic laws, which confer enforceable rights on individuals. For example, Article 17 of the Convention has been implemented by the Australian Privacy Act 1988 [124] . Likewise, the Covenant's equality and anti-discrimination provisions support the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 [125] . Finally, the Covenant is one of the major sources of 'human rights' listed in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.[82] This law requires most new legislation and administrative instruments (such as delegated/subordinate legislation) to be tabled in parliament with a statement outlining the proposed law's compatibility with the listed human rights[83] A Joint Committee on Human Rights scrutinises all new legislation and statements of compatibility.[84] The findings of the Joint Committee are not legally binding.

Legislation also establishes the Australian Human Rights Commission[85] which allows the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to examine enacted legislation[86] (to suggest remedial enactments[87]), its administration[88] (to suggest avoidance of practices[89]) and general compliance[90] with the covenant which is scheduled to the AHRC legislation.[91]

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.[92] While the Convention cannot be used to overturn a Victorian or ACT law, a Court can issue a 'declaration of incompatibility' that requires the relevant Attorney-General to respond in Parliament within a set time period.[94] Courts in Victoria and the ACT are also directed by the legislation to interpret the law in a way to give effect to a human right,[93] and new legislation and subordinate legislation must be accompanied by a statement of compatibility.[95] 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.[96]


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."[97]

New Zealand

New Zealand took measures to give effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990, and formally incorporated the status of protected person into law through the passing of the Immigration Act 2009.[98]

Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan author was arrested on April 1, 2019 for inciting religious violence, following a publication of a short story about homosexuality and child abuse at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The author had been adjudged the best Sinhala short story writer in Sri Lanka's National Youth Literary Festivals of 2010 and 2014, and was twice the recipient of the north western provincial state literary award. A group of Buddhist monks had stormed the author's workplace demanding punitive action against him after the story first appeared on facebook; the ICCPR prohibits "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence". Human rights organizations Civicus and the Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) have asserted that the charges are spurious and a clear violation of the author's right to freedom of expression.[99][100]

United States

Reservations, understandings, and declarations

The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with five reservations, five understandings, and four declarations.[81] Some have noted that with so many reservations, its implementation has little domestic effect.[101] Included in the Senate's ratification was the declaration that "the provisions of Article 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing",[102] 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."[103]

Where a treaty or covenant is not self-executing, and where Congress has not acted to implement the agreement with legislation, no private right of action within the US judicial system is created by ratification.[104]

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,[105] there is some issue as to whether the non-self-execution declaration is even legal under domestic law.[106]

Prominent critics in the human rights community, such as Prof. Louis Henkin[107] (non-self-execution declaration incompatible with the Supremacy Clause) and Prof. Jordan Paust[108] ("Rarely has a treaty been so abused") have denounced the United States' ratification subject to the non-self-execution declaration as being a blatant fraud upon the international community, especially in light of what they allege is its subsequent failure to conform domestic law to the minimum human rights standards as established in the Covenant and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over the last thirty years.


It has been argued that Article 20(2) of the ICCPR, as well as Article 4 of the ICERD, may be unconstitutional according to Supreme Court precedent, which is the reason behind the Senate reservations.[109]


In 1994, the United Nations' Human Rights Committee expressed concerns with compliance:[110]

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.[111] Its citizens are not permitted to sue to enforce their basic human rights under the Covenant.[111] 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:[112]

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.[113]

Parties to the Covenant

There are a total of 172 parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[114]

State partySignedRatified or accededEntry into force
Afghanistan24 January 198324 April 1983
Albania4 October 19914 January 1992
Algeria10 December 196812 September 198912 December 1989
Andorra5 August 200222 September 200622 December 2006
Angola10 January 199210 April 1992
Argentina18 February 19688 August 19868 November 1986
Armenia23 June 199323 September 1993
Australia18 December 197213 August 198013 November 1980
Austria10 December 197310 September 197810 December 1978
Azerbaijan13 August 199213 November 1992
Bahamas, The4 December 200823 December 200823 March 2009
Bahrain20 September 200620 December 2006
Bangladesh6 September 20006 December 2000
Barbados5 January 197323 March 1976
Belarus19 March 196812 November 197323 March 1976
Belgium10 December 196812 April 198312 July 1983
Belize10 June 199610 September 1996
Benin12 March 199212 June 1992
Bolivia12 August 198212 November 1982
Bosnia and Herzegovina[1]1 September 19936 March 1992
Botswana8 September 20008 September 20008 December 2000
Brazil24 January 199224 April 1992
Bulgaria8 October 196821 September 197023 March 1976
Burkina Faso4 January 19994 April 1999
Burundi8 May 19908 August 1990
Cambodia[2]17 October 198026 May 199226 August 1992
Cameroon27 January 198427 April 1984
Canada19 May 197619 August 1976
Cape Verde6 August 19936 November 1993
Central African Republic8 May 19818 August 1981
Chad9 June 19959 September 1995
Chile16 September 196910 February 197223 March 1976
Colombia21 December 196629 October 196923 March 1976
Congo, Democratic Republic of the1 November 19761 February 1977
Congo, Republic of the5 October 19835 January 1984
Costa Rica19 December 196629 November 196823 March 1976
Côte d'Ivoire26 March 199226 June 1992
Croatia[1]12 October 199212 January 1993
Cyprus19 December 19662 April 196923 March 1976
Czech Republic[3]22 February 19931 January 1993
Denmark20 March 19686 January 197223 March 1976
Djibouti5 November 20025 February 2003
Dominica17 June 199317 September 1993
Dominican Republic4 January 19784 April 1978
East Timor18 September 200318 December 2003
Ecuador4 April 19686 March 196923 March 1976
Egypt4 August 196714 January 198214 April 1982
El Salvador21 September 196730 November 197929 February 1980
Equatorial Guinea25 September 198725 December 1987
Eritrea22 January 200222 April 2002
Estonia21 October 199121 January 1992
Ethiopia11 June 199311 September 1993
Fiji16 August 201816 November 2018
Finland11 October 196719 August 197523 March 1976
France4 November 19804 February 1981
Gabon21 January 198321 April 1983
Gambia, The22 March 197922 June 1979
Georgia3 May 19943 August 1994
Germany[4]9 October 196817 December 197323 March 1976
Ghana7 September 20007 September 20007 December 2000
Greece5 May 19975 August 1997
Grenada6 September 19916 December 1991
Guatemala5 May 19925 August 1992
Guinea28 February 196724 January 197824 April 1978
Guinea-Bissau12 September 20001 November 20101 February 2011
Guyana22 August 196815 February 197715 May 1977
Haiti6 February 19916 May 1991
Honduras19 December 196625 August 199725 November 1997
Hungary25 March 196917 January 197423 March 1976
Iceland30 December 196822 August 197922 November 1979
India10 April 197910 July 1979
Indonesia23 February 200623 May 2006
Iran4 April 196824 June 197523 March 1976
Iraq18 February 196925 January 197123 March 1976
Ireland1 October 19738 December 19898 March 1990
Israel19 December 19663 October 19913 January 1992
Italy18 January 196715 September 197815 December 1978
Jamaica19 December 19663 October 197523 March 1976
Japan30 May 197821 June 197921 September 1979
Jordan30 June 197228 May 197523 March 1976
Kazakhstan2 December 200324 January 200624 April 2006
Kenya1 May 197223 March 1976
Korea, North[5]14 September 198114 December 1981
Korea, South10 April 199010 July 1990
Kuwait21 May 199621 August 1996
Kyrgyzstan7 October 19947 January 1995
Laos7 December 200025 September 200925 December 2009
Latvia14 April 199214 July 1992
Lebanon3 November 197223 March 1976
Lesotho9 September 19929 December 1992
Liberia18 April 196722 September 200422 December 2004
Libya15 May 197023 March 1976
Liechtenstein10 December 199810 March 1999
Lithuania20 November 199110 February 1992
Luxembourg26 November 197418 August 198318 November 1983
Macedonia, Republic of[1]18 January 199417 September 1991
Madagascar17 September 196921 June 197123 March 1976
Malawi22 December 199322 March 1994
Maldives19 September 200619 December 2006
Mali16 July 197423 March 1976
Malta13 September 199013 December 1990
Marshall Islands12 March 201812 June 2018
Mauritania17 November 200417 February 2005
Mauritius12 December 197323 March 1976
Mexico23 March 198123 June 1981
Moldova26 January 199326 April 1993
Monaco26 June 199728 August 199728 November 1997
Mongolia5 June 196818 November 197423 March 1976
Montenegro[1]23 October 20063 June 2006
Morocco19 January 19773 May 19793 August 1979
Mozambique21 July 199321 October 1993
Namibia28 November 199428 February 1995
Nepal14 May 199114 August 1991
Netherlands25 June 196911 December 197811 March 1979
New Zealand12 November 196828 December 197828 March 1979
Nicaragua12 March 198012 June 1980
Niger7 March 19867 June 1986
Nigeria29 July 199329 October 1993
Norway20 March 196813 September 197223 March 1976
Pakistan17 April 200823 June 201023 September 2010
Palestine2 April 20142 July 2014
Panama27 July 19768 March 19778 June 1977
Papua New Guinea21 July 200821 October 2008
Paraguay10 June 199210 September 1992
Peru11 August 197728 April 197828 July 1978
Philippines19 December 196623 October 198623 January 1987
Poland2 March 196718 March 197718 June 1977
Portugal[6]7 October 197615 June 197815 September 1978
Qatar21 May 201821 August 2018
Romania27 June 19689 December 197423 March 1976
Russia18 March 196816 October 197323 March 1976
Rwanda16 April 197523 March 1976
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines9 November 19819 February 1981
Samoa15 February 200815 May 2008
San Marino18 October 198518 January 1986
São Tomé and Príncipe31 October 199510 January 201710 April 2017
Senegal6 July 197013 February 197813 May 1978
Serbia[1]12 March 200127 April 1992
Seychelles5 May 19925 August 1992
Sierra Leone23 August 199623 November 1996
Slovakia[3]28 May 19931 January 1993
Slovenia[1]6 July 19926 October 1992
Somalia24 January 199024 April 1990
South Africa3 October 199410 December 199810 March 1999
Spain28 September 197627 April 197727 July 1977
Sri Lanka11 June 198011 September 1980
Sudan18 March 198618 June 1986
Suriname28 December 197628 March 1977
Swaziland26 March 200426 June 2004
Sweden29 September 19676 December 197123 March 1976
Switzerland18 June 199218 September 1992
Syria21 April 196923 March 1976
Tajikistan4 January 19994 April 1999
Tanzania11 June 197611 September 1976
Thailand29 October 199629 January 1997
Togo24 May 198424 August 1984
Trinidad and Tobago21 December 197821 March 1979
Tunisia30 April 196818 March 196923 March 1976
Turkey15 August 200023 September 200323 December 2003
Turkmenistan1 May 19971 August 1997
Uganda21 June 199521 September 1995
Ukraine20 March 196812 November 197323 March 1976
United Kingdom[7]16 September 196820 May 197620 August 1976
United States5 October 19778 June 19928 September 1992
Uruguay21 February 196721 May 196723 March 1976
Uzbekistan28 September 199528 December 1995
Vanuatu29 November 200721 November 200821 February 2009
Venezuela24 June 196910 May 197810 August 1978
Vietnam24 September 198224 December 1982
Yemen9 February 19879 May 1987
Zambia10 April 198410 July 1984
Zimbabwe13 May 199113 August 1991

States not party to the Covenant

Most states in the world are parties to the ICCPR. The following 25 states have not become party to it, but six states have signed the Covenant but not ratified it.[114]

Signatories that have signed and not ratified

China[6][7][8]5 October 1998
Comoros25 September 2008
Cuba28 February 2008
Nauru12 November 2001
Palau20 September 2011
Saint Lucia22 September 2011

States which are neither signatories nor parties

  1. Antigua and Barbuda

  2. Bhutan

  3. Brunei

  4. Cook Islands

  5. Kiribati

  6. Malaysia

  7. Micronesia

  8. Niue

  9. Myanmar

  10. Oman

  11. Saint Kitts and Nevis

  12. Saudi Arabia

  13. Singapore

  14. Solomon Islands

  15. South Sudan

  16. Tonga

  17. Tuvalu

  18. United Arab Emirates

  19. Vatican City

See also

  • United Nations Human Rights Committee

  • United Nations Human Rights Council

  • United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories

  • United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66 (I)

  • United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV)

  • United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV)

  • United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1654 (XVI)


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgYugoslavia 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 retroactively been in force since 27 April 1992.  Republic of 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgAlthough Cambodia signed the Covenant when it was known as Democratic Kampuchea, it filed an instrument of accession, not ratification, on 26 May 1992.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgCzechoslovakia 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgEast 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgOn 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgPortugal 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgBoth 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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgTaiwan (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.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkindicators.ohchr.org"OHCHR Dashboard". Status of ratification
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgArticle 53 of the ICCPR
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkwww.ohchr.orgInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkwww.unhchr.ch"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 2 June 2008.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkwww.geschichte-menschenrechte.deChristopher N.J.Roberts. "William H. Fitzpatrick's Editorials on Human Rights (1949)". Quellen zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Part I, Article 1, paragraph 3.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSieghart, Paul (1983). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 25.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgUnited Nations General Assembly Resolution 543, 5 February 1952.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgUnited Nations General Assembly Resolution 545, 5 February 1952.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgUnited Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200, 16 December 1966.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgThe following section summarises the text of the Covenant.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgICCPR, Article 1.1.
Sep 30, 2019, 4:18 AM