Monitoring and promoting UN treaties

Promoting and protecting the human rights in United Nations treaties

The United Nations (UN) is an organisation founded to promote worldwide cooperation and to protect human rights. Countries which are members of the UN sign treaties – agreements under international law - that set out their responsibilities to promote and safeguard the human rights of their citizens.

The UK has signed seven of these treaties, covering civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the freedom from torture, and the rights of women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and children. These are:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to protect and promote the civil and political rights of people in the UK. These include the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of slavery and trafficking.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to protect and promote the civil and political rights of people in the UK. These include the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of slavery and trafficking.

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

The UK and devolved Governments are prohibited from inflicting torture and other forms of cruelty on people. This includes using torture for interrogation, even in a time of war, physical punishment in schools, and poor healthcare that could be degrading, for example, to older or disabled people.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to protect and promote the human rights of children in the UK. These rights include the right to health, the right to education, and the right of children to participate in decisions that affect them.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of ethnic minorities in the UK. These rights include the right to be free from discrimination, the right to health and the right to education.

Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of women in the UK. These rights include the right to live free from discrimination, the right to equal pay for work of equal value, and freedom from gender-based violence.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The UK and devolved Governments have committed to promoting and protecting the rights of people with disabilities in the UK. These rights include the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection, and the right to participate in decisions that affect them.


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution with a privileged ‘A’ status at the UN. As a National Human Rights Institution, we must monitor how well the UK is promoting and protecting the human rights set out in these treaties. We do this through sending reports to the UN that set out the human rights situation in the UK, and make recommendations to the UK and devolved Governments, such as the Scottish Parliament, on the improvements that are needed..

Our work is important as it helps to ensure the UK is fulfilling its international obligations and continues to be a global leader for human rights. It also helps to strengthen protections for human rights in the UK and to highlight their importance.

Last Updated: 30 Sep 2015