International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The civil and political rights guaranteed by this covenant, which was opened for signature on 19 December 1966 and entered into force on 23 March 1976, incorporate almost all of those proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to nondiscrimination. Pursuant to the Covenant, each state party undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the Covenant:

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.

Some rights listed in the Universal Declaration, however, such as the right to own property and the right to asylum, are not included among the rights recognized in the Covenant. On the other hand, the Covenant designates a number of rights that are not listed in the Universal Declaration, among them the right of all peoples to self-determination and the right of ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language. To the extent that the Universal Declaration and the Covenant overlap, however, the latter is understood to explicate and help interpret the former.

In addition, the Covenant calls for the establishment of a Human Rights Committee, an international organ of 18 persons elected by the parties to the Covenant, serving in their individual expert capacity and charged to study reports submitted by the states parties on the measures they have adopted that give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant. As between the states parties that have expressly recognized the competence of the Committee in this regard, the Committee also may respond to allegations by one state party that another state party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Covenant. If the Committee is unable to resolve the problem, the matter is referred to an ad hoc conciliation commission, which eventually reports its findings on all questions of fact, plus its views on the possibilities of an amicable solution. States parties that become party to the Covenant's first Optional Protocol further recognize the competence of the Human Rights Committee similarly to consider and act upon communications from individuals claiming to be victims of Covenant violations. Thus empowered, the Committee is one of three treaty-based organs within the UN system competent to receive and consider, in quasi-judicial manner, grievances from individuals claiming to be victims of human rights violations. The other two are the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination established under the 1966 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on Torture established under the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

Also to be noted is the Covenant's second Optional Protocol, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. Adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1991, it has been so far favorably received in most of the countries of Western Europe and many in Latin America.

See also:
The complete text of the document

For the two optional protocols see:
First Optional Protocol
Second Optional Protocol

Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights