International Human
Rights Law

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights served as the inspiration for the European Convention on Human Rights, one of the most significant agreements in the European Community. The Convention was adopted in 1953 by the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization established in 1949 and composed of forty-seven European Community Member States. This body was formed to strengthen human rights and promote democracy and the rule of law.

The Convention is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Any person claiming to be the victim of a violation in one of the forty-seven countries in the European Community which has signed and ratified the Convention, may seek relief with the European Court. One must first have exhausted all recourse in the courts of their home country and have filed an application for relief with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS FOR THE AMERICAS, AFRICA AND ASIA

In North and South America, Africa and Asia, regional documents for the protection and promotion of human rights extend the International Bill of Human Rights.

The American Convention on Human Rights pertains to the inter-American states—the Americas—and was entered into force in 1978.

African states have created their own Charter of Human and People’s Rights (1981), and Muslim states have created the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990).

The Asian Human Rights Charter (1986) was created by the Asian Human Rights Commission, founded that year by a group of jurists and human rights activists in Hong Kong. The Charter is described as a “people’s charter,” because no governmental charter has been issued to date.

DOWNLOAD HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS

1. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 9 Download >>

2. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 44/128 of 15 December 1989 Download >>

3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into force 3 January 1976, in accordance with Article 27 Download >>

4.  Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11 with Protocol Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13 Download >>

5.  African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 [1982], entered into force 21 October 1986) Download >>

6.  American Convention on Human Rights O.A.S.Treaty Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System, OEA/Ser.L.V/II.82 doc.6 rev.1 at 25 (1992) Download >>