||Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe|
International Norms 1
UN Covenant on Civil and Political
What are Human Rights?
Human rights - this an area of study closely tied with philosophy, and most importantly, ethics, legal studies, and political science. In its modern form, it is a theoretical concept that developed after the Second World War, although its origins can be traced back to ancient times, to the Middle Ages, and of course, to the Enlightenment. Under communism, human rights were not a subject of study, nor were they taught anywhere. However, the very expression, “human rights,” naturally with the added prefix of “socialist” began to appear during the 1970s and 1980s, confusing and purposely distorting the idea, which came to us from the West. In our communist states, these were also called “bourgeois human rights.”
In the 1990s, the conception of human rights was developed a great deal in Poland, but just a few years are not sufficient to make up for half a century of stunted social consciousness, and moreover, this conception evokes other misunderstood terms, such as democracy, left parties, rights, and so on, whose meanings were distorted not just by the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL), but also by politicians during the transition in Poland.
Yet it is impossible to have a discussion on human rights without defining what it means. Thus, without trying to lay out an all-encompassing definition (since there is none), let us try to define a basic understanding that we will use in our discussion on human rights.
Democracy is the first term that evokes confusion. Journalists often ask what is the sense in working with human rights, when “democracy already reigns.” They equate democracy, rule of the people in which decisions are taken by a majority the majority simply with freedom and fair elections. However, as history shows, majority rule can have very severe relations with individuals, as well as with different minorities. It was precisely the majority that sentenced Socrates to death and yet we would hardly conclude that this is good testimony in favor of Athenian democracy. If we ask a group of people to list ten or twenty traits that characterize either themselves, or their situation, it would appear that these lists would be dominated by characteristics of a minority. The majority, however, typically forgets about the problems of minorities, and in fact some of these problems evoke a feeling of enmity among the majority. This means that unlimited rule by the majority constitutes a threat to individual persons and groups. Thus, in a democratic society, human rights and human freedoms define the limits of majority rule and must be protected.
One of the key concepts for human rights is the idea of a just government.
The first article of the current Polish constitution states that, “The
Republic of Poland is a democratic and just government.” A just government
is a government in which there are clear, stable and universally know rules
of the game between the individual and the state. It is a government ruled
not by self-empowered functionaries and cults of personality, but by clear
Human rights and freedoms concern exclusively relations between people and their government (so-called vertical working of these rights) and can not be applied in the same way to relations between people (i.e. the horizontal working of these rights) is not justified, and speaking today about human rights, we are speaking about the mutual relations between an individual and government. Although family, love, friendship and neighborly relations are sources for a series of rights and obligations, the concept of human rights do not pertain to these ideas.
Human rights are not collective, but rather individual. The individual is the subject of these rights. Thus, we also can not speak about minority rights in the same framework of human rights. In the arena of human rights it is necessary to speak about the rights of individuals belonging to national minorities, and not about the rights of individuals as groups, but rather about the rights of each person as a separate individual. The only divergence from this rule appeared in the 1960s when it was inserted in both international UN conventions on human rights.
The first article states that, “all nations have the right to self-determination.” The rights of nations are derived from individual rights — this is a typical collective right. This article ended up in the International Convention on Political Norms, and we, speaking about human rights, are not thinking about the rights of nations, social classes or strata, but about rights of individual people.
There are two basic groups of human rights: material, or basic rights and procedural rights.
Material rights encompass concrete rights and freedoms of the individual: Freedom of speech, thought, free movement, and so on.
Procedural rights are protections that force the government to observe and fulfill these rights in the exercise of state power.
Material rights encompass basic rights and freedoms. Positive rights are active obligations on government in relation to each of us. For example, the right to education places an obligation on government to create schools to ensure children are educated. In a given situation, it is not so important to resolve the question of payment or method of education.
Basic freedoms, sometimes called negative rights, are prohibitions placed on government to prevent it from interfering in certain areas of our lives.
Our language does not always convey the meaning that separates positive and negative rights. In the literal sense of right to life, if it were taken literally to mean that the government must provide people with immortality [but in fact it means the state must never take human life except under the most extraordinary situations]. When we are speaking about the right to practice or change one’s religion or convictions, this means prohibiting the state’s interference in questions of religious beliefs or convictions — this is what freedom of religion and personal convictions means. It is not worthwhile to carry out corrections in our lexicon, but it is beneficial to delineate positive from negative rights.
Some rights are regarded as inalienable. These are human rights that we can not give up. Even if someone signs a document that gives up his personal freedoms and willingly enters him into servitude, this document does not have any sort of legal consequence — it is simply deprived of meaning. However, we can deal with our own property and limit our own rights to property, since the right to property is not counted among inalienable right.
In as much as everything tied to rights and freedoms occurs within the bounds of mutual relations between the people and state, then we must mention three completely different approaches to the nature of these relations.
In the first approach, only the government of its own volition, which gives people this or that rights. This means the people have as many rights as government deigns to give them. This sort of approach appears in the constitutions of all communist states (see the Polish constitutional statute from July 22, 1952; the Republic of Poland strengthen and broadens the rights and freedoms of its citizens) and in the constitutions of some European governments adopted in the nineteenth century.
The second approach is that of the social contract model. The social contract confines the government from one side, and the nation as an aggregate sum of individuals on the other. Those who are ruled agree to give the government money, for example, to pay taxes, and the leader, from his or her side, is obliged to do something for them: realize certain rights and refrain from interference in certain areas of life, this means to recognize the people’s rights. This agreement, which can be more or less beneficial for one of these sides, is often called a constitution.
The third approach is characteristic of the American model, where by the people, in possession of their natural rights and freedoms as human beings, decide to create a government and confer it with power in order to create a better and more comfortable life for the people. And so that the government can act, the people agree out of their own free will to limit some of their rights, in effect giving them to the government. For example, they agree to limit their property rights, or pay taxes, or to serve in the army.
The last of these models differs quite radically from the first approach. In the first approach, people have as many rights as the government gives them. In the third approach, the government has only as much power as the people are willing to give it. It is precisely from this difference that an actual, practical consequence emerges. The third approach, whereby the government is permitted only what the law allows and the individual is allowed everything that is not prohibited by law, is a basic conception of human rights.
Human dignity is derived from the very essence of humanity - it is inherent both to an innocent child, as well as to the full-grown criminal. Human dignity is not the same as individual dignity — a conception that is close to the idea of honor. Individual dignity is something we earn ourselves; it grows if we act in a dignified manner and it is lost when we commit evil deeds. Fundamental to the conception of human rights is the first of these two understandings, i.e. the understanding of human dignity. We find the basis for this in various beliefs and philosophical theories. For Christians, human dignity is derived from the concept that all persons are created in the image of God, each carrying within himself a part of the Creator’s dignity. However, it is not important how we substantiate the existence of human dignity, by what religion or which philosophical school of thought. Regardless of our starting point, we arrive in the end at a very similar list individual rights and freedoms that belong to the individual in his mutual relations with government authorities, and rights and protect the individual from degrading and inhumane treatment at the hands of the dominant and powerful uses of government force.
Our rights and freedoms are our protection, it is what shields our human dignity from the reach of government power. Human rights are not in a position to give us guarantees that we will be loved and taken care of, nor does it guarantee happiness in life, nor justice even in the case of minimal welfare — human rights only protect us from humiliation and incursions on our dignity, and even in this case only from one side, but from the very strongest violator, i.e. government power, which in the case of democracy means majority will.
Thanks to human rights, the individual protects his own identity and
his own uniqueness, because neither before us, nor after us, will there
be anybody like us, with our own individual experience, our own conceptions,
feelings and thoughts. In a system that opposes respect for uniqueness
and individual character, there is totalitarianism striving to form a “new
man” as conceived by a dictator. These ideal citizens have identical thoughts,
and they even say that they should be dressed alike, such as the Koreans,
Chinese or Blackshirts, and march cheerfully - left! Right! — or take part
in physical-cultural parades and create still lives in honor of the Great
Leader or the Great Idea.
On the lips of politicians, the word equality can mean different things. If the person speaking about equality has — although this is to simplify a bit — a communist origin, then he has in mind equality that provides everybody with money and a reliable means to maintain a given standard of living. A quite stark example of this approach was the slogan “we all have the exact same stomachs,” which is to mean that should everyone receive an equal amount.
For a socialist, equality means equality of possibility. Entering into life, people should have equal opportunities, and then the capable and industrious will achieve success, just as others will not make successful careers, but at least at the start they should be given equal chances. This sort of thought appears in the conception of human rights when the legal rights of individuals belonging to national and social minorities are considered.
Finally, the liberal understands equality as equality of rights and treatment under law. This understanding of equal rights is very close in its meaning to a prohibition on discrimination. Discrimination is any type of attitude differentiating rights or legitimacy, lacking a rational basis, based on physical or biological characteristics. By way of an example, forbidding the blind to drive cannot be regarded as a form of discrimination, because such a law has a rational basis. However, it would be discriminating not to give out drivers licences to blonds or gypsies. As practice shows, it is possible to create a just system that does not have discriminatory disposition. Until now, no one has been able to formulate a system that corresponds to the second condition on equality put forward by the liberals — more precisely, equality before the law. Always and everywhere, officials deal with wealthy and famous people differently than they deal with outcasts or representatives of scorned groups. There are different systems that attempt to smooth over these disparities, but there has never been a case when full success was achieved. Nonetheless, we should not discount the postulate of completely equal treatment as a realizable goal — as an ideal it should not be discounted.
A discussion about equality and freedom is a starting point for compiling a list of material rights and the construction of institutions and procedures guaranteeing that the government will safeguard those things that fall within its scope. [Under the European Convention on Human Rights, and U.N. conventions, some rights and freedoms — not to be tortured, placed in servitude, or subjected to forced labor — are absolute. Others, such as freedoms of speech, movement, association and assembly, may be limited, but only in cases of extreme danger to the state, and only then according to strict stipulations determined by international practice and law and even then the limitation on freedoms and rights must be proportionate to the danger.]
The majority of material rights have a limited character. Of the rights enumerated in the European Convention on the Defense of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms, the only area that limitations cannot be applied are in connection to the right every person not to be tortured, be placed in servitude, or subject to forced labor. All remaining rights can be limited in cases when they contradict the rights and freedoms of other people or other values, for example government security. However, government can deviate from its obligations to protect rights freedoms when and only when there are concrete circumstances and only when it is on the basis of law — the leadership itself does not have the right to introduce limitations according to it own decision; the degree of limitation of rights and freedom should correspond to the severity of situation and the protection of a particular value. Thus, when the government introduces limited measures in this case, these measures should correspond with principles accepted in a democratic society of free people. Questions of whether or not there were government violations of one or another of these conditions are dealt with through the European Court on Human Rights. In the context of European normative acts, we, people having been raised in communism, have an unsound fear that if government has the power to limit freedom, then in practice it will destroy these freedoms.
Yet there are limitations and there must be limitation, but the radius of their actions and character should be subject to strict control. The possibility to limit human rights would not seem to match up with the very essence of these rights. The search for limitations on rights and human freedoms is very complicated, evokes conflict, and the development of science and technology breeds news difficulties.
The very recognition of human rights and freedoms would not have any sort of concrete meaning if it were not for the existence of procedures, thanks to which each person can protect his or herself from violations of these rights. Government is always inclined to violate rights, either because it makes it easier to govern or it is simply easier path for attaining its goals. This tendency is not tied to any sort of concrete system. This is precisely why it is so important to have a set of procedures that not only prevent such action, but also prevent the government from attempting to neglect its duties and get around the rules. In the constitution of the PRL there were human rights and freedoms, and the PRL ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights However, there were no procedural rights for Polish citizens, i.e. no possibility to make a formal complaint that security service functionaries, the militia, or even a ministry of violating human rights. Attempts to cite the constitution or international rights — in the best case — would only evoke a smirk.
Under governments with democratic traditions, the courts are the main protection of human rights and freedoms, along with a parliamentary representative on human rights (ombudsmen). In order to protect human rights, citizens work through the civic institutions, legislative initiatives, referendums, individual constitutional complaints, petitions, direct applications to government bodies and international fora on human rights, non-governmental organizations that are given the right to act legally, and so on. Some material rights, for example, the right to free speech, freedom of information, freedom of assembly and association, should be regarded not just as something valuable that should be protected, but as instruments that enable the protection of other rights. Finally, it should be said that it is easier to protect human rights if there are appropriate political institutions in government that act on the principle of the division of power among legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Human rights are constantly developing and are becoming more numerous both within the legislative bodies of government as well as on the international level (in this regard it should be noted that international rights are defined only as a minimum standard of human rights protection) The current subject of discussion is not just new, additional rights, but also new problems and threats, for example, the danger of human rights violations connected with the rise of information technology and problems related to the limits of scientific research. From these changes arise new rights and freedoms, and so continues the search for more effective protection of these rights and measures to counteract government violations on formally recognized rights.
The tendency to limit individual rights is an immanent attribute of
government. Thus, the need in society to protect human rights will never
disappear. Today we know that the stronger democracy is, the stronger and
more numerous will be organizations protecting people from government intrusions
on the individual’s own and unique character.
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49
The States Parties to the present Covenant,
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights,
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,
Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,
Agree upon the following articles:
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
3. 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.
1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present 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.
2. Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect tothe rights recognized in the present Covenant.
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;
(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.
1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.
2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision.
3. Any State Party to the present Covenant availing itself of the right of derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the present Covenant, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of the reasons by which it was actuated. A further communication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the date on which it terminates such derogation.
1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
2. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.
1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.
3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.
5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.
6. Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
2. No one shall be held in servitude.
3. (a) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;
(b) Paragraph 3 (a) shall not be held to preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court;
(c) For the purpose of this paragraph the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include:
(i) Any work or service, not referred to in subparagraph (b), normally
required of a
(ii) Any service of a military character and, in countries where conscientious objection is recognized, any national service required by law of conscientious objectors;
(iii) Any service exacted in cases of emergency or calamity threatening
the life or
(iv) Any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations.
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
1. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
2. (a) Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons;
(b) Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.
3. The penitentiary system shall comprise
treatment of prisoners the essential aim of
No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.
1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
2. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.
3. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant.
4. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.
An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant may be expelled therefrom only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law and shall, except where compelling reasons of national security otherwise require, be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.
1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order (ordre public) or national security in a democratic society, or when the interest of the private lives of the parties so requires, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice; but any judgement rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interest of juvenile persons otherwise requires or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children.
2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:
(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;
(c) To be tried without undue delay;
(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;
(e) To examine,
or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance
and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as
witnesses against him;
(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.
4. In the case of juvenile persons, the procedure shall be such as will take account of their age and the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation.
5. Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.
6. When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partly attributable to him.
7. No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country.
1 . No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time when the criminal offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of the offence, provision is made by law for the imposition of the lighter penalty, the offender shall benefit thereby.
2. Nothing in this article shall prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations.
Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection
of the law against such interference or attacks.
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right.
3. Nothing in this article shall authorize
States Parties to the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1948
concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize
to take legislative measures which would prejudice, or to apply the law
in such a manner as to prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.
3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
4. States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.
1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.
3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.
All persons are equal before the law and are
entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.
1. There shall be established a Human Rights Committee (hereafter referred to in the present Covenant as the Committee). It shall consist of eighteen members and shall carry out the functions hereinafter provided.
2. The Committee shall be composed of nationals of the States Parties to the present Covenant who shall be persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights, consideration being given to the usefulness of the participation of some persons having legal experience.
3. The members of the Committee shall be elected
and shall serve in their personal capacity.
1 . The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons possessing the qualifications prescribed in article 28 and nominated for the purpose by the States Parties to the present Covenant.
2. Each State Party to the present Covenant may nominate not more than two persons. These persons shall be nationals of the nominating State.
3. A person shall be eligible for renomination.
1. The initial election shall be held no later than six months after the date of the entry into force of the present Covenant.
2. At least four months before the date of each election to the Committee, other than an election to fill a vacancy declared in accordance with article 34, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a written invitation to the States Parties to the present Covenant to submit their nominations for membership of the Committee within three months.
3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all the persons thus nominated, with an indication of the States Parties which have nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties to the present Covenant no later than one month before the date of each election.
4. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at a meeting of the States Parties to the present Covenant convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations at the Headquarters of the United Nations. At that meeting, for which two thirds of the States Parties to the present Covenant shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those nominees who obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the representatives of States Parties present and voting.
1. The Committee may not include more than one national of the same State.
2. In the election of the Committee, consideration shall be given to equitable geographical distribution of membership and to the representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems.
1. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years. They shall be eligible for re-election if renominated. However, the terms of nine of the members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election, the names of these nine members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the meeting referred to in article 30, paragraph 4.
2. Elections at the expiry of office shall be held in accordance with the preceding articles of this part of the present Covenant.
1. If, in the unanimous opinion of the other members, a member of the Committee has ceased to carry out his functions for any cause other than absence of a temporary character, the Chairman of the Committee shall notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall then declare the seat of that member to be vacant.
2. In the event of the death or the resignation of a member of the Committee, the Chairman shall immediately notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall declare the seat vacant from the date of death or the date on which the resignation takes effect.
1. When a vacancy is declared in accordance with article 33 and if the term of office of the member to be replaced does not expire within six months of the declaration of the vacancy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall notify each of the States Parties to the present Covenant, which may within two months submit nominations in accordance with article 29 for the purpose of filling the vacancy.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of the persons thus nominated and shall submit it to the States Parties to the present Covenant. The election to fill the vacancy shall then take place in accordance with the relevant provisions of this part of the present Covenant.
3. A member of the Committee elected to fill a vacancy declared in accordance with article 33 shall hold office for the remainder of the term of the member who vacated the seat on the Committee under the provisions of that article.
The members of the Committee shall, with the approval of the General Assembly of the United Nations, emoluments from United Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may decide, having regard to the importance of the Committee's responsibilities.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the Committee under the present Covenant.
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall convene the initial meeting of the Committee at the Headquarters of the United Nations.
2. After its initial meeting, the Committee shall meet at such times as shall be provided in its rules of procedure.
3. The Committee shall normally meet at the Headquarters of the United Nations or at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Every member of the Committee shall, before taking up his duties, make a solemn declaration in open committee that he will perform his functions impartially and conscientiously.
1. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years. They may be re-elected.
2. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure, but these rules shall provide, inter alia, that:
(a) Twelve members shall constitute a quorum;
(b) Decisions of the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of the members present.
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to submit reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights:
(a) Within one year of the entry into force of the present Covenant for the States Parties concerned;
(b) Thereafter whenever the Committee so requests.
2. All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit them to the Committee for consideration. Reports shall indicate the factors and difficulties, if any, affecting the implementation of the present Covenant.
3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations may, after consultation with the Committee, transmit to the specialized agencies concerned copies of such parts of the reports as may fall within their field of competence.
4. The Committee shall study the reports submitted by the States Parties to the present Covenant. It shall transmit its reports, and such general comments as it may consider appropriate, to the States Parties. The Committee may also transmit to the Economic and Social Council these comments along with the copies of the reports it has received from States Parties to the present Covenant.
5. The States Parties to the present Covenant may submit to the Committee observations on any comments that may be made in accordance with paragraph 4 of this article.
1. A State Party to the present Covenant may at any time declare under this article that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under the present Covenant. Communications under this article may be received and considered only if submitted by a State Party which has made a declaration recognizing in regard to itself the competence of the Committee. No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration. Communications received under this article shall be dealt with in accordance with the following procedure:
(a) If a State Party to the present Covenant considers that another State Party is not giving effect to the provisions of the present Covenant, it may, by written communication, bring the matter to the attention of that State Party. Within three months after the receipt of the communication the receiving State shall afford the State which sent the communication an explanation, or any other statement in writing clarifying the matter which should include, to the extent possible and pertinent, reference domestic procedures and remedies taken, pending, or available in the matter;
(b) If the matter is not adjusted to the satisfaction of both States Parties concerned within six months after the receipt by the receiving State of the initial communication, either State shall have the right to refer the matter to the Committee, by notice given to the Committee and to the other State;
(c) The Committee shall deal with a matter referred to it only after it has ascertained that all available domestic remedies have been invoked and exhausted in the matter, in conformity with the generally recognized principles of international law. This shall not be the rule where the application of the remedies is unreasonably prolonged;
(d) The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications under this article;
(e) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (c), the Committee shall make available its good offices to the States Parties concerned with a view to a friendly solution of the matter on the basis of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the present Covenant;
(f) In any matter referred to it, the Committee may call upon the States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), to supply any relevant information;
(g) The States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), shall have the right to be represented when the matter is being considered in the Committee and to make submissions orally and/or in writing;
(h) The Committee shall, within twelve months after the date of receipt of notice under subparagraph (b), submit a report:
a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is reached, the Committee
(ii) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is not reached,
the Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts;
the written submissions and record of
2. The provisions of this article shall come into force when ten States Parties to the present Covenant have made declarations under paragraph I of this article. Such declarations shall be deposited by the States Parties with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to the other States Parties. A declaration may be withdrawn at any time by notification to the Secretary-General. Such a withdrawal shall not prejudice the consideration of any matter which is the subject of a communication already transmitted under this article; no further communication by any State Party shall be received after the notification of withdrawal of the declaration has been received by the Secretary-General, unless the State Party concerned has made a new declaration.
1. (a) If a matter referred to the Committee in accordance with article 41 is not resolved to the satisfaction of the States Parties concerned, the Committee may, with the prior consent of the States Parties concerned, appoint an ad hoc Conciliation Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission). The good offices of the Commission shall be made available to the States Parties concerned with a view to an amicable solution of the matter on the basis of respect for the present Covenant;
(b) The Commission shall consist of five persons acceptable to the States Parties concerned. If the States Parties concerned fail to reach agreement within three months on all or part of the composition of the Commission, the members of the Commission concerning whom no agreement has been reached shall be elected by secret ballot by a two-thirds majority vote of the Committee from among its members.
2. The members of the Commission shall serve in their personal capacity. They shall not be nationals of the States Parties concerned, or of a State not Party to the present Covenant, or of a State Party which has not made a declaration under article 41.
3. The Commission shall elect its own Chairman and adopt its own rules of procedure.
4. The meetings of the Commission shall normally be held at the Headquarters of the United Nations or at the United Nations Office at Geneva. However, they may be held at such other convenient places as the Commission may determine in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the States Parties concerned.
5. The secretariat provided in accordance with article 36 shall also service the commissions appointed under this article.
6. The information received and collated by the Committee shall be made available to the Commission and the Commission may call upon the States Parties concerned to supply any other relevant information.
7. When the Commission has fully considered the matter, but in any event not later than twelve months after having been seized of the matter, it shall submit to the Chairman of the Committee a report for communication to the States Parties concerned:
(a) If the Commission is unable to complete its consideration of the matter within twelve months, it shall confine its report to a brief statement of the status of its consideration of the matter;
(b) If an amicable solution to the matter on tie basis of respect for human rights as recognized in the present Covenant is reached, the Commission shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts and of the solution reached;
(c) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (b) is not reached, the Commission's report shall embody its findings on all questions of fact relevant to the issues between the States Parties concerned, and its views on the possibilities of an amicable solution of the matter. This report shall also contain the written submissions and a record of the oral submissions made by the States Parties concerned;
(d) If the Commission's report is submitted under subparagraph (c), the States Parties concerned shall, within three months of the receipt of the report, notify the Chairman of the Committee whether or not they accept the contents of the report of the Commission.
8. The provisions of this article are without prejudice to the responsibilities of the Committee under article 41.
9. The States Parties concerned shall share equally all the expenses of the members of the Commission in accordance with estimates to be provided by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
10. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be empowered to pay the expenses of the members of the Commission, if necessary, before reimbursement by the States Parties concerned, in accordance with paragraph 9 of this article.
The members of the Committee, and of the ad hoc conciliation commissions which may be appointed under article 42, shall be entitled to the facilities, privileges and immunities of experts on mission for the United Nations as laid down in the relevant sections of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
The provisions for the implementation of the present Covenant shall apply without prejudice to the procedures prescribed in the field of human rights by or under the constituent instruments and the conventions of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies and shall not prevent the States Parties to the present Covenant from having recourse to other procedures for settling a dispute in accordance with general or special international agreements in force between them.
The Committee shall submit to the General Assembly of the United Nations, through the Economic and Social Council, an annual report on its activities.
Article 46 .
Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of the constitutions of the specialized agencies which define the respective responsibilities of the various organs of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies in regard to the matters dealt with in the present Covenant.
Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.
2. The present Covenant is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
3. The present Covenant shall be open to accession by any State referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States which have signed this Covenant or acceded to it of the deposit of each instrument of ratification or accession.
1. The present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
2. For each State ratifying the present Covenant or acceding to it after the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession, the present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.
1. Any State Party to the present Covenant may propose an amendment and file it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall thereupon communicate any proposed amendments to the States Parties to the present Covenant with a request that they notify him whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the proposals. In the event that at least one third of the States Parties favors such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.
2. Amendments shall come into force when they have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties to the present Covenant in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. 3. When amendments come into force, they shall be binding on those States Parties which have accepted them, other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present Covenant and any earlier amendment which they have accepted.
Irrespective of the notifications made under article 48, paragraph 5, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States referred to in paragraph I of the same article of the following particulars:
ratifications and accessions under article 48;
1. The present Covenant, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations
shall transmit certified copies of the present Covenant to all States referred
to in article 48.
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