International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

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The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966. The ICCPR was to take effect ten years later in all nations that had become state parties. A sufficient number of states had become parties so the ICCPR took effect as planned in 1976.

The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in June 1992. The Senate took exceptions to this treaty. Amongst those exceptions are the provision that the human rights recognized by this treaty shall not be enforcable in courts in the United States. Thus the United States Senate denied Americans the legal power to secure and enforce the human rights recognized by this international covenant.

CIRP presents selected articles. The full unabridged text is available elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

The ICCPR contains important articles which appear to protect the child from involuntary circumcision. Article 24 provides a right of every child to special protection. This is to be applied without regard to race, color, sex, religion, social orgin or birth. The right is universal and protects every child without exception. Article 9 provides a right of security of person. Article 7 provides a right to freedom from torture, and cruel or degrading treatment. Article 26 provides a right to the equal protection of the law for all persons. Read together it appears that a child would have a right to special protection of the security of his body, freedom from torture, and cruel and degrading treatment. The special protection of the law is to be applied universally for all persons. This would seem to mean that the child is entitled to protection from circumcision by law.

Article 18 provides that everyone has a right to adopt a religion. This means that children may adopt a different religion from their parents. A circumcision may interfere with this right of free choice of religion.

These articles may be enforcable in court in some nations other than the United States.

U.N.T.S. No. 14668, vol 999 (1976), p. 171.

The States Parties to the present Covenant,

Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundationof freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,

Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights,

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for and observance of, human rights and freedoms,

Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,

Agree upon the following articles:

PART I

Article 1

  1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  2. [...]
  3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of theCharter of the United Nations.

PART II

Article 2

  1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  2. Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant.
  3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
    1. To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;
    2. To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;
    3. To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.

Article 3

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the presentCovenant.

Article 5

  1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for inthe present Covenant.
  2. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.

PART III

Article 7

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his freeconsent to medical or scientific experimentation.

Article 9

  1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as areestablished by law.

Article 16

Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 17

  1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour andreputation.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the lawagainst such interference or attacks.

Article 18

  1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
  2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
  3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
  4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

Article 24

  1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
  2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.
  3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

Article 26

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 27

In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.

Article 50

The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.


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