International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
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 2: UN publishes list of issues.
Please note that some of the timings given below are estimates, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted the UN to cancel a number of Geneva sessions. The below will be updated when the UN publishes further information on the timetable for the UK’s review.
1. Stakeholders report on progress
2. UN publishes list of issues
3. Stakeholders respond to list of issues
- based on the current timetable, the UK will submit its state report in April 2021
- other stakeholders who want to respond to the List of Issues should submit their reports around one month before the UN review, which we estimate will take place in 2022
4. UN examines the government
- based on the current timetable, we estimate that the UN review will take place in 2022
5. UN publishes recommendations
- based on the current timetable, we estimate that the UN will publish its recommendations to the UK in 2022
- UN published latest recommendations to UK (August 2015)
6. Government implements recommendations
- UK state report on follow-up to the UN’s previous recommendations (2015) on accountability for human rights violations committed by British forces abroad and accountability for conflict-related violations in Northern Ireland (submitted August 2016)
- search the human rights tracker for ICCPR recommendations
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.
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.