"The International Bill of Human Rights"
(Excerpts from the United Nations publication)
As a moral document of first importance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , adopted and proclaimed on 10 December 1948 and which consists of 30 articles, has been followed by four (4) instruments intended to add legal force in nations who adopt the instruments:
These five major United Nation instruments exist to define and guarantee the protection of human rights. Together they constitute the document now known as the International Bill of Human Rights.
These instruments require States that have ratified them to recognise and honour the widest range of human rights ever recorded in history.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the basic international statement of the inalienable and inviolable rights of all members of the human family. It is intended to serve as the 'common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations" in the effort to secure universal and effective recognition and observance of the rights and freedoms it lists.
The two Covenants relating to human rights provide internal protection for specified rights and freedoms. Both Covenants recognize the right of peoples to self-determination. Both have provisions barring all forms of discrimination in the exercise of human rights. Both have the force of law for the countries, which ratify them.
The first treaty, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recognizes the right to work and to free choice of employment, to fair wages, to form and join unions, to social security, and to adequate standards of living conditions for their people. States reports on their progress in promotion of these rights are reviewed by a committee of experts appointed by the Economic and Social Council.
The second treaty, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes the right of every human person to life, liberty and security of person, to privacy, to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and from torture, to freedom from slavery, to immunity from arbitrary arrest, to a fair trial, to recognition as a person before the law, to immunity from retroactive sentences, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to freedom of opinion and expression, to liberty of movement, including the right to emigrate, to peaceful assembly and to freedom of association.
The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights sets up a Human Rights Committee to consider progress reports from States, which have ratified the covenant. The Committee may also hear complaints by such States that other States, which have ratified the Covenant, have failed in upholding the obligations under the Covenant.
Under the Optional Protocol to the Civil and Political Covenant, individuals under certain circumstances may file complaints of human rights violations by ratifying States.
Under the Second Optional Protocol to the Civil and Political Covenant, States must take all measures to abolish the death penalty.
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(C) One Voice One People. Last updated: March 2000