International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The ICCPR is a human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and put into force on March 23, 1976. This important treaty outlines some broad and fundamental civil and political rights that we should all enjoy, including the rights to self-determination, to life, to found a family, to participate in the electoral process, and to due process and a fair trial. It also provides freedoms from torture, slavery, genocide, and freedoms of movement, speech, expression, conscience, and religion. In addition to many more rights and freedoms, it provides for equal protection and enjoyment of these rights by women, men, children, and minorities. The United States signed the Covenant on October 5, 1977, and ratified it on June 8, 1992Based on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the ICCPR has the status of federal law, and the United States is, therefore, obligated to adhere to this treaty.

The ICCPR, and its two Optional Protocols, 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). Note that the United States has not ratified these two Optional Protocols; the first Protocol establishes an individual complaints mechanism, and the second abolishes the death penalty.

The US Human Rights Network is working to get full implementation of this treaty into domestic law. A key part of this work is getting social justice groups and other NGOs engaged in the periodic reviews of the U.S. Government and other opporunities before the Human Rights Committee (the Committee).

Currently, the U.S. has agreed to receive from the U.N. Human Rights Committee a List of Issues Prior to Reporting which will form the basis for the U.S. Government’s periodic report to the Committee. U.S. Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples and their representatives can submit information on relevant ICCPR issues, draft suggested questions and recommendations that will be considered by the Committee for inclusion within the List of Issues Prior to Reporting. The deadline for submissions is January 14, 2019.

The U.S Government has ratified this international treaty and USHRN is working to ensure that the U.S. Government meets its obligations under the treaty.  Please click here to learn more about USHRN’s ICCPR work.


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