International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a treaty adopted by the United Nations on December 16, 1966 and put into effect March 23, 1976. It requests its parties to respect human rights, including the right to life, freedom of religion, speech assembly, and the right to vote and have access to a fair trial. 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.
The United States signed the covenant under President Carter in 1977, and ratified the treaty on September 8, 1992 under President George H.W. Bush with an unprecedented number of reservations.
Convention On The Elimination Of Racial Discrimination
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention, which commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. The convention defines torture as:
Article 1 of the Convention defines “racial discrimination” as
…any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
It requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and make racist organizations illegal. The ICERD was adopted and opened for signature on December 21, 1965, and put into effect on January 4, 1969. It was the first human rights treaty to include an individual complaints mechanism with a committee of 18 independent experts elected by States, which makes it enforceable against its parties.
The United States ratified the ICERD on October 21, 1994 under President Clinton.
Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) is a human rights instrument, which serves to prevent torture around the world. The text defines torture as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
— Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1
It calls for states to prevent torture within their borders and forbids them to transport people outside of their borders where there may be threat of torture. The UN adopted the text on December 10, 1984 and came into force on June 26, 1987. June 26 is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Torture Victims.
The United States signed the text on April 18, 1988 and ratified it on October 21, 1994 under President Clinton.