Print Friendly, PDF & Email

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

Context:

The independent experts on the Human Rights Committee have published a fresh interpretation of the right of peaceful assembly, offering comprehensive legal guidance about where and how it applies and also outlining governments’ obligations.

Background:

The committee is tasked with monitoring how countries implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which under Article 21 guarantees the right to peaceful assembly.

What’s the issue?

Authorities worldwide are grappling with swelling demonstrations over issues like political rights and racial justice. At some places, coercive forces are being used to suppress the voices of protesters.

  • Therefore, right to peaceful assembly has come into the spotlight.
  • Supporters believe that protesting peacefully, online or in person, is a fundamental human right.

Important observations made by the Human Rights Committee:

  1. It is a “fundamental human right” for people to gather to celebrate or to air grievances, “in public and in private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online.”
  2. Everyone, including children, foreign nationals, women, migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, can exercise the right of peaceful assembly.
  3. Governments could not prohibit protests by making “generalised references to public order or public safety, or an unspecified risk of potential violence”.
  4. In addition, Governments “cannot block internet networks or close down any website because of their roles in organising or soliciting a peaceful assembly”.
  5. It also stressed the right of journalists and human rights observers to monitor and document any assembly, including violent and unlawful ones.

Implications:

The Committee’s interpretation will be important guidance for judges in national and regional courts around the world, as it now forms part of what is known as ‘soft law’.

About ICCPR:

  1. It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  2. Monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
  3. The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
  4. 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).
  5. It became effective in 1976.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is International Bill of Human Rights?
  2. What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)?
  3. About United Nations Human Rights Committee.
  4. When ICCPR became effective?
  5. Has India signed ICCPR?
  6. Article 21 of ICCPR.

Mains Link:

It is a “fundamental human right” for people to gather to celebrate or to air grievances, “in public and in private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online.” Discuss its relevance today.

Sources: the Hindu.