• Legis Scriptor

International law and Human Rights

Authored by Ishaanvi

Keywords: rights, law, customary, international, conflict, treaties


International human rights law, which is applicable at all times including during circumstances of emergency and conflict, lays down the basic protections that all individuals are entitled to. It is the duty of the states to respect, ensure and fulfill these rights. International human rights law is the body of international law planned to foster and safeguard human rights at the different levels. As a form of international law, international human rights law is chiefly made up of treaty law and customary international laws. Whilst international treaties and customary law forms the support system of the international human rights law, other instruments: declarations, guidelines and principles adopted at international level contribute to its understanding, implementation and development.[1]


Enforcement of international human rights law can occur at a domestic or an international level. States that sanction human rights treaties resolute to respecting, protecting and fulfilling those rights, and assuring that their domestic law is compatible with international standards. When domestic law misfire a remedy for human rights abuses, injured parties might be able to resort to international mechanisms for remedy.

The International human rights law & the International humanitarian law

International human rights law is closely associated with, but different from international humanitarian law. They are complimentary since the substantive norms they contain are often similar or connected. However, international human rights law applies at all times, including during circumstances of emergency and conflict. International humanitarian law is a legal regime that only applicable to armed conflicts, including occupation, when both legal regimes apply in tandem.

Modern development of human rights

The Modern international human rights law has developed since the drafting of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), in December 1948. Drafted as ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations', the Declaration explains civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all humans are entitled to. It has been largely accepted as providing the fundamental norms of human rights that everyone should respect and protect.The UDHR, along with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its two Optional Protocols, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), frame the International Bill of Human Rights.[2]

Since 1945, a sequence of international human rights treaties and other instruments have been adopted, discussing legal form on inherent human rights and further advancing the body of international human rights. These include:

· The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

· The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

· The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

· The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

· The United Nations Convention Against Torture

· The Convention on the Rights of the Child

· The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

· The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

· The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

State obligations and procedures

International human rights law prescribes obligations which all states are bound to respect. Through approval of international human rights treaties, governments undertake of placing domestic measures and legislation compatible with their treaty obligations. After becoming a party to international treaties, a state surmises obligations under international law to respect, shield and fulfill human rights. The obligation to respect implies states must forbear from interfering with or halting the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect wants states to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfill implies states should take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

Monitoring mechanisms

In order to monitor the compliance of states with their obligations, the UN system has created mechanisms that examine state parties' compliance with the specific treaty obligations. These mechanisms include Human Rights Council and bodies created under the international human rights treaties that consist of independent experts. Similar mechanisms don’t exist for the monitoring of compliance with international humanitarian law.[3]

Human rights council

The Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected UN Member States, empowered to prevent abuses, inequity and discrimination, protect the most vulnerable, and expose the perpetrators of human rights violations. The Council established Special Procedures (or mechanisms) to address either specific country situations or thematic issues all over the world. They are important, independent professionals working on a voluntary basis, appointed by the Human Rights Council. There are presently 30 thematic mandates and 8 country mandates.

Human rights treaty bodies

There are currently 10 human rights treaty bodies - committees of independent experts - created in accordance with the provisions of the treaty that they monitor. Nine of them monitors execution of the core international human rights treaties whilst the tenth one, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, established under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, monitors place of detention in state parties to the Optional Protocol.


The advancement of state institutions to promulgate and protect human rights is a censorious safeguard to assure people can obtain option and amend in the face of injustice. One of the main purposes of the United Nations is the promulgation and encouragement of respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The role and scope of the United Nation action in promulgating and protecting human rights have tremendously increased in the last 57 years.





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