Human rights conventions and declarations

The Charter of the United Nations is the first international treaty with aims which are expressly based on universal respect for human rights. This has served as the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), signed on 10 December 1948.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in the form of a General Assembly resolution, A/RES/217(III), and is not, in principle, legally binding. It is, however, considered one of the most important documents of the 20th century, serving as a fundamental authority in multilateral debates in the United Nations and elsewhere and as a powerful factor in establishing the advancement of international human rights law.

The UDHR became the starting point for the development of many human rights instruments internationally and regionally, and the United Nations has made considerable efforts to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights by drawing up conventions and declarations.

Millennnium declaration

The United Nations Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2)- built upon the outcome of the twelve major summits and conferences of the 1990s at which Governments agreed on development goals - was adopted at the Millennium Summit 2000, where all UN member states were represented. Part V of the declaration formulates goals for the promotion of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has the mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights. OHCHR supports the work of the United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council and the core treaty bodies.

Core international human rights treaties

There are nine core international human rights instruments. Each of these instruments has established a committee of experts, so called human rights treaty bodies, to monitor implementation of the treaty provisions by its States parties. Some of the treaties are supplemented by optional protocols dealing with specific concerns.

For the human rights treaty bodies' conventions, optional protocols, working methods, reporting and ratifications see links below.

See also DagDok on Conventions and declarations.

Conventionen

Date

Monitoring body

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Adopted in 1966, entered into force in 1976

CERD

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Adopted in 1966, entered into force in 1976

CCPR

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Adopted in 1966, entered into force in 1976

CESCR

Convention on The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Adopted in 1979, entered into force in 1981

CEDAW

Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Adopted in 1984, entered into force in 1987

CAT

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Adopted in 1989, entered into force in 1990

CRC

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

Adopted in 1990, entered into force in 2003

CMW

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Adopted in 2006, entered into force in 2010

CED

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Adopted in 2006, entered into force in 2008

CRPD

More on UN and Human Rights conventions and declarations

UN document symbols

The UN document symbols for documents from the core treaties' monitoring bodies:

CCPR/

Human Rights Committee (treaty body for ICCPR)

CERD/

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (treaty body for Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination)

CEDAW/

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (treaty body for Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women)

CAT/

Committee against Torture (treaty body for Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)

CAT/OP/

Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (treaty body for Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture)

CRC/

Committee on the Rights of the Child (treaty body for Convention on the Rights of the Child)

CRPD/

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (treaty body for Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol)

CMW/

Committee on Migrant Workers (treaty body for International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families)

CED/

Committee on Enforced Disappearances (treaty body for International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance)

For more information about the Treaty Bodies, see the DagDok pages:

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.