International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

It came into force on 23 March 1976. The treaty commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals including, freedom of religion, right to life, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.

About 173 countries are parties to the Covenant.

This article will give further information about the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights within the context of the Civil Service Examination.

The ICCPR also comes under the International Relations Segment of the exam. To know more about this segment, be sure to visit the UPSC Syllabus page.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:- Download PDF Here

Overview of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The implementation of the ICCPR is overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which reviews reports of parties on how effectively fundamental rights are being implemented. The parties to the ICCPR reports within a year after acceding to the Covenant, and then whenever the committee requires. The Committee holds its sessions in Geneva, Switzerland, thrice per year.

The ICCPR had its origins in the same type of process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Early on in the process, the document was split into a declaration setting forth general principles of human rights, and a convention or covenant containing binding commitments. The former evolved into the UDHR and was adopted on 10 December 1948.

Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The ICCPR contains about 53 articles divided into 6 parts. Their details are as follows:

Structure of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Articles of ICCPR


Article 1 It recognizes the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to “freely determine their political status”, pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and dispose of their own resources.
Articles 2 – 5 These articles enable parties to come up with legislation to give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant, and to provide a legal remedy in case of violation of such rights.
Articles 6 – 27 Article 6 -27 contain rights such as:

  • Guarantee of physical integrity as in right to life and freedom from torture and slavery.
  • Freedom from unlawful arrest, right to habeas corpus and guarantee of individual liberty and security.
  • Fairness in law and its procedure through the rights to due process, fair and impartial trial,  the presumption of innocence.
  • Freedoms of moment, thought, religion association, conscience, assembly, right to privacy and right to a nationality.
  • Disallowing propaganda for war and religious purposes as well as advocacy of national or religious hatred that will result in violence or hostility.
  • Political participation, including the right to the right to vote
  • Equality before the law, no discrimination on grounds of anyone being a minority or not.
Articles 28 – 45 These articles establish the guidelines of the Human Rights Committee will operate, as well as the reporting and monitoring of the Covenant.

It also enables the parties to recognise the authority of the committee to resolve the disputes between parties on the implementation of the ICCPR.

Articles 46 – 47 Articles 46 – 47 states that the provisions of the ICCPR does not mean that parties will interfere with the operation of the United Nations or “the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize full and freely their natural wealth”
Articles 48 – 53 Governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.

India and the ICCPR

India is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The Constitution of India guarantees the Right to Protest, publicly question and force the government to answer as per Article 19.

  • Article 19 (1) (a) states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 19 (1) (b) states that all citizens shall have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

However, the State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of right of assembly on two grounds, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India and public order including the maintenance of traffic in the area concerned.

Read about Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution in the linked article.

Aspirants can find complete information about upcoming Government Exams through the linked article. More exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below


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