International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and came into force in 1976.
The UK ratified the treaty in 1976, which means that it is now committed to respecting the civil and political rights of individuals within the UK. Those rights include:
- the right to life;
- freedom of religion;
- freedom of speech;
- freedom of assembly;
- electoral rights; and
- rights to due process and a fair trial.
Member states’ implementation of the ICCPR is monitored by the UN Human Rights Committee (a separate body from the UN Human Rights Council).
Find out more about the work of the Human Rights Committee.
States must report periodically to the Human Rights Committee on how they are giving domestic effect to the obligations they have committed to under ICCPR.
The UK has not directly incorporated the ICCPR into domestic law. However, many of the rights covered by ICCPR are also included in the European Convention on Human Rights, which is given effect in the UK by the Human Rights Act 1998.
The UK’s performance in implementing ICCPR was last examined by the Human Rights Committee in 2008. The Committee made a number of recommendations to the UK to ensure improved protection and promotion of civil and political rights in the UK, in relation to:
- increasing the diversity of the judiciary;
- ensuring that counter-terrorism provisions do not breach human rights law; and
- preventing torture, and investigating suspected cases.
Preparing for the Human Rights Committee’s Next Examination of the UK
The Ministry of Justice coordinates the UK’s work on ICCPR and submitted its seventh periodic report to the Human Rights Committee in 2012. Read the report here.
The Human Rights Committee is next due to examine the UK’s performance in relation to ICCPR in 2015. In advance of the examination the Human Rights Committee will hold a “pre-sessional working group” where it will decided the “list of issues” it wishes to focus on during the examination and therefore requires further information from the UK.
As a national human rights institution, the Commission can make a submission to the “pre-sessional working group” setting out evidence about issues we consider to be priorities to improve the UK’s performance in relation to ICCPR.
Last Updated: 16 Jul 2014