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International Bill of Human Rights



International Human Rights are a set of fundamental rights and freedoms that are recognized and protected by International Law. These rights are universal, meaning that they apply to every person, regardless of their race, gender, nationality, religion, or any other status. The most important international human rights are:


The right to life, liberty, and security of person


The right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment


The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion


The right to freedom of expression and information


The right to peaceful assembly and association


The right to participate in government and to vote and be elected in free and fair elections


The right to work, to a fair wage, and to join a trade union


The right to education and to access to information


The right to health and to adequate housing, food, and water


The right to freedom from discrimination on any grounds, such as race, gender, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.


These international human rights are recognized by a range of international treaties, agreements and declarations including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). These documents provide the framework for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)


Human rights are rights we have simply because we exist as human beings - they are not granted by any state. These universal rights are inherent to us all, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. They range from the most fundamental - the right to life - to those that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations’ (UN) General Assembly in 1948 was the first legal document to set out the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The UDHR, which turned 74 in 2020, continues to be the foundation of all international human rights law. Its 30 articles provide the principles and building blocks of current and future human rights conventions, treaties and other legal instruments.


The UDHR, together with the 2 covenants - the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - make up the International Bill of Rights.


Human rights apply to all individuals, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. As such, immigrants are entitled to the same human rights as any other person. These include:


Right to life, liberty, and security of person: Immigrants are entitled to the same protections as everyone else from arbitrary detention, torture, and other forms of cruel or inhumane treatment.


Right to freedom of movement: Immigrants have the right to move freely within a country and to leave and return to that country.


Right to seek asylum: Immigrants who have fled their country due to persecution or fear of persecution have the right to seek asylum in another country.


Right to work: Immigrants have the right to work and to be paid a fair wage for their labor.


Right to education: Immigrant children have the right to education, regardless of their immigration status.


Right to healthcare: Immigrants have the right to access healthcare services, including preventive care and treatment for illnesses and injuries.


Right to family life: Immigrants have the right to maintain family ties and relationships, including the right to reunite with family members who live in other countries.


Right to due process: Immigrants have the right to a fair and impartial hearing before a competent tribunal or court, and the right to legal representation.


It's important to note that while these rights are universal, the way they are implemented and enforced can vary from country to country, and some countries may not fully protect the human rights of immigrants.




The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. It is one of the two principal human rights treaties, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), that together make up the International Bill of Human Rights.


The ICCPR is a legally binding agreement that sets out a range of civil and political rights, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to a fair trial. The Covenant also includes provisions protecting individuals against torture, arbitrary arrest or detention, and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or other status.


The ICCPR requires signatory countries to take steps to ensure that these rights are protected and respected, and to provide individuals with effective remedies when their rights are violated. The Covenant also establishes a committee of independent experts, known as the Human Rights Committee, to monitor its implementation and to review reports submitted by signatory countries. As of 2021, 173 countries have ratified the ICCPR, making it one of the most widely accepted human rights treaties in the world.




The International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. It is one of the two principal human rights treaties, along with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), that together make up the International Bill of Human Rights.


The ICESCR is a legally binding agreement that sets out a range of economic, social, and cultural rights, including the right to work, the right to education, the right to health, the right to social security, and the right to an adequate standard of living. The Covenant also includes provisions protecting the rights of women, children, and people with disabilities.


The ICESCR requires signatory countries to take steps to ensure that these rights are protected and respected, and to provide individuals with effective remedies when their rights are violated. The Covenant also establishes a committee of independent experts, known as the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to monitor its implementation and to review reports submitted by signatory countries. As of 2021, 171 countries have ratified the ICESCR, making it one of the most widely accepted human rights treaties in the world.


Individuals or groups cannot submit complaints directly to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. However, the Committee can receive information from a variety of sources, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO)s, national human rights institutions, and other UN bodies.


If an individual or group believes that their economic, social, or cultural rights have been violated by a state party to the ICESCR, they can raise their concerns with the relevant national authorities and seek redress through national legal and administrative procedures. They can also bring the issue to the attention of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or other human rights organizations that can assist them in filing a complaint with the national authorities.


In some cases, NGOs can also submit a complaint on behalf of an individual or group to the UN Special Procedures mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, among others. These mechanisms can investigate alleged violations of economic, social, and cultural rights and make recommendations to the state party to take appropriate measures to address the situation.


A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate and report on human rights situations in specific countries or on particular themes or issues. The role of a Special Rapporteur is to gather information on alleged human rights violations, to monitor and assess the situation, and to make recommendations to the Council and to the international community on measures that can be taken to address the situation.


Special Rapporteurs are appointed for renewable terms of three years and serve in their personal capacity, meaning they do not represent their governments or any other organization. They are expected to be impartial, objective, and free from any influence or pressure, and they work on a voluntary basis.


Special Rapporteurs are empowered to carry out fact-finding missions to countries, meet with government officials, civil society organizations and other stakeholders; and to communicate with individuals and groups who have information about the human rights situation in the country or on the theme or issue they are investigating.


Some examples of current Special Rapporteurs include the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, among others.



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