International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

UN treaty

ICCPR is an international human rights treaty adopted in 1966. The UK ratified (agreed to follow) ICCPR in 1976. ICCPR rights enable people to enjoy a wide range of human rights, including those relating to:

  • freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • fair trial rights
  • freedom of thought, religion and expression
  • privacy, home and family life
  • equality and non-discrimination

How the treaty is monitored

The implementation of ICCPR is monitored by the UN Human Rights Committee. Around every five years the Committee reviews how well each state is putting into practice the rights in ICCPR. Find out more about previous review cycles.

There are six stages in the treaty cycle. Civil society organisations can engage throughout this process. The UN has information on how to participate on its website.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) treaty cycle

The ICCPR cycle is currently at stage 1: Stakeholders report on progress.

Please note that some of the timings given below are estimates and will be updated when the UN publishes further information on the timetable for the UK’s review.

1. Stakeholders report on progress

  • stakeholders should¬†submit their reports by January 2020 in order to influence the List of Issues (see stage 2 below)
  • the UN will adopt its List of Issues in March 2020
  • based on the current timetable, the UK will submit its state report in early-mid 2021
  • other stakeholders who want to respond to the List of Issues should also plan to submit their reports by early-mid 2021
  • based on the current timetable, we estimate that the UN review will take place in mid-late 2021

Optional protocols

ICCPR has two Optional Protocols, which are additional treaties that provide further rights or processes.

The first Optional Protocol allows people to complain directly to the Human Rights Committee if they believe their rights have been violated. It can only be used when all domestic channels have been exhausted. The UK has not signed up to this.

The second Optional Protocol deals with the abolition of the death penalty. This has been ratified by the UK.

General comments

The Human Rights Committee has issued a number of General Comments on ICCPR. These provide further detail on how it should be interpreted, covering issues such as the right to life, freedom of opinion and expression and non-discrimination.

Last updated on 19/09/2019