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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Topics Covered: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

Why in News?

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for criminal contempt of court by the Supreme Court seemed to be inconsistent with the freedom of expression law guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India was a party to.

What is International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)?

It is an international human rights non-governmental organization.

Composition: It is a standing group of 60 eminent jurists—including senior judges, attorneys and academics.

Functions: To develop national and international human rights standards through the law.

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

What has the ICJ said on Prashant Bhushan’s case?

  • The conviction appears to be inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression and the role of lawyers.
  • The judgment risked having a “chilling effect on the exercise of protected freedom of expression in India”.
  • While some restrictions of freedom of expression are permitted by international standards, a particularly wide scope must be preserved for debate and discussion about such matters as the role of the judiciary, access to justice, and democracy, by members of the public, including through public commentary on the courts.

What is International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • It became effective in 1976. Article 49 allowed that the covenant would enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession.
  • India is a party to this treaty.


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.
  7. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

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.