The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law

By David Harris; Sarah Joseph | Go to book overview

1
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Kingdom: An Introduction

DAVID HARRIS*

In this introductory chapter it is intended to examine the guarantee and method of implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)1 and to consider certain aspects of the position of the United Kingdom as a party to it.


THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITTCAL RIGHTS

One of the most striking developments in international law since the Second World War has been the emergence of an international law of human rights.2 At a universal level, this law has been the product of the work of the United Nations. Charged by its Charter with the protection of human rights, the United Nations established the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which has promoted most of the large family of United Nations human rights instruments that have been adopted.3 Foremost amongst these are the three documents that together constitute the International Bill of Rights: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,4 the 1966 Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),5 and the ICCPR. The Universal Declaration contains a

____________________
*
The author would like to thank Marcus Schmidt, of the UN Human Rights Centre, for reading a draft and for making some very helpful comments.
1
999 UNTS 171; UKTS 6( 1977), Cmnd. 6702. On the ICCPR generally, see McGoldrick, D. , The Human Rights Committee: Its Role in the Development of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( Oxford, 1991), and Nowak, M., United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary ( Kehl, 1993). The latter is an up-dated and expanded English-language version of Nowak, M., CCPR--Kommentar zum UNO-Pakt über bürgerliche und politische Rechte und zum Fakultativprotokoll ( Kehl, 1989).
2
For an account of this development, see Luard, E. (ed.), The International Protection of Human Rights ( New York, 1967), chs. 3-4.
3
On the UN Commission on Human Rights and its work in standard-setting, see Tolley, H. The UN Commission on Human Rights ( Boulder, 1987), and Alston, P., 'The Commission on Human Rights' in Alston, P. (ed.), The United Nations and Human Rights ( Oxford, 1992), ch. 5.
4
GA Res. 217A (III), GAOR, 3rd Sess., Pt. I, Resolutions, 71.
5
993 UNTS 3; UKTS 6 ( 1977), Cmnd. 6702. See Craven, M., The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Perspective on its Development ( Oxford, 1995).

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