INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
Below is a compendium of core human rights instruments for scholars, jurists, and activists. This resource is unique in providing quick access to different language versions, jurisprudence, ratification status (with treaty reservations), voting history, travaux préparatoires (drafting history), and commentaries. It includes key documents often left out of other compendia on urgent issues such as the human rights law governing autonomous warfare, artificial intelligence, gene technology, global warming, class discrimination, imperialism, and financial and economic exploitation.
This resource provides students a free alternative to expensive published compendia for use in courses and exams. See also free compendia published by Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) on African human rights law and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.
INTERNATIONAL BILL OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(adopted 10 December 1948)
(adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 3 January 1976)
Other Language Versions: Arabic
(adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976*)
Other Language Versions: Arabic
ICERD – International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (adopted 21 December 1965, entered into force 4 January 1969)
Other Language Versions: Arabic
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (adopted 18 December 1979, entered into force 3 September 1981)
YP+10 – Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 – Additional Principles and State Obligations on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics to Complement the Yogyakarta Principles (adopted 10 November 2017)
While there is not yet a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Class Discrimination (CECD), discrimination based on class (social origin; property, posición económica 'economic position,' la fortune 'wealth,' 财产 'property,' الثروة 'wealth'; birth, сословное положение 'estate/class status') is prohibited in international human rights law alongside the jus cogens (absolute) prohibition of racial, gender, and other discrimination.
COMMON ARTICLE 2 of the UDHR, ICESCR, ICCPR, and CRC:
Article 2: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as ... social origin, property [posición económica 'economic position,' имущественное положение 'property status'], birth [сословное положение 'estate/class status'] or other status."
Article 2(2): "The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as ... social origin, property [posición económica 'economic position'], birth or other status."
Article 2(1): "Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as ... social origin, property [posición económica 'economic position'], birth or other status."
Article 2(1) (see also preamble): "States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's ... social origin, property, disability, birth or other status."
Article 7: "States Parties undertake ... to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to ... social origin, ... economic position, property, ... birth or other status."
Article 1: "1. For the purpose of this Convention the term discrimination includes -- (a) any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of ... social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation."
See also Article 5(2): "social or cultural status."
IMPERIALISM, NEO-COLONIALISM, AND SELF-DETERMINATION
Thomas Pogge, "World Poverty and Human Rights," Ethics & International Affairs. World poverty as "the largest crime against humanity ever committed."
Gwilym David Blunt, "Is Global Poverty a Crime against Humanity?," International Theory. "The causes of global poverty are comparable with the crimes of slavery and apartheid."
Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Statement. "Extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power."
ILO C107 – Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention (superseded by C169)
RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD AND FUTURE GENERATIONS
RIGHT TO FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS
Note: Free movement protections are less developed for human beings than for animals, capital, goods, and services. For example, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (127 states parties) requires states "to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimize ... obstacles that seriously impede or prevent the migration of the species" listed in Appendix I of the treaty (see Articles III(4)(b), V(5)(h)). See "Finance" for free movement of capital and "Trade & IP" for free movement of goods and services. Even where there is limited development of free movement of persons, it is often restricted to free movement of certain "workers" or (paid) "labor," which may discriminate against women, people of color, economic classes, and others.
Free Movement of Persons as a "Cardinal Principle of International Law"
Violation of Free Movement of Persons as an "Act of War"
Vincent Chetail: International Migration Law, "Free movement had long been the rule in the doctrine and practice of international law" (Chetail, p. 18). "Francisco de Vitoria ... played an influential role in establishing the free movement of persons as a cardinal principle of international law. ... Vitoria conceptualized the principle of free movement as a truly universal norm binding every state. ... For Vitoria, all nations acknowledged the right to travel as a rule of international law" (pp. 20-21). "Immigration control is a relatively recent invention of states" (p. 46) rooted in nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.
Vitoria: Vitoria wrote, "To refuse to welcome strangers and foreigners is inherently evil." "Vitoria made clear that foreigners who did not commit any crime were free to enter another country: [Vitoria stated] 'it is not lawful to banish visitors who are innocent of any crime.' The importance he assigned to this right of entry shall not be underestimated. Refusing such admission is not only a violation of international law; it can also be considered as an act of war" (p. 21).
Grotius (himself a refugee): Grotius proclaimed, "Every nation is free to travel to every other nation." This is an "unimpeachable rule of the law of nations [...] which is self-evident and immutable." (Chetail quoting Grotius, p. 24) "The liberty of passing ought first to be demanded, and if that be denied, it may be claimed by force" (Chetail quoting Grotius, p. 24, n. 41).
Vattel: Vattel declared, "When a real necessity obliges you to enter into the territory of others,—for instance, if you cannot otherwise escape imminent danger, or if you have no other passage for procuring the means of subsistence, or those of satisfying some other indispensable obligation,—you may force a passage when it is unjustly refused" (Chetail quotting Vattel, p. 37). Chetail explains that "the judgment as to whether there is a state of necessity lies with the person seeking entry and not with the state" (p. 37).
Johann Caspar Bluntschli: "No State has the right to prohibit in an absolute way the entry of foreigners onto its territory" (p. 42).
Institute of International Law: International Rules on the Admission and Expulsion of Aliens (1892), Article 6: "Free entrance of aliens into the territory of a civilized [sic] state cannot be prohibited in a general and permanent manner other than in the interest of public welfare and on extremely serious grounds" (p. 45). Article 7: "The protection of national labour force is not in itself a sufficient ground of non-admission" (p. 46).
"Liberty of movement is an indispensable condition for the free development of a person."
ICMW – International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (adopted 18 December 1990, entered into force 1 July 2003)