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 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.

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 21/07/2020