The Optional Protocol to the ICCPR immeasurably improved its enforcement. Do you agree?

Essay by kroninskyB, February 2004

download word file, 16 pages 4.8


'The global international community does not often frontally and flagrantly override state sovereignty in the name of human rights. At the same time, states find themselves enmeshed in global governance. By their own consent, they find themselves part of international legal regimes that generate diplomatic pressure to conform to human rights standards.'

The post-World War II era was one of burgeoning international concern and awareness that a global system of legal mechanisms had to be established in order to promote and protect individual and collective rights, as well as to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust would never be repeated. This idealistic desire found its initial expression in the United Nations (hereinafter, the UN) and its key documents, the 1945 UN Charter and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which aimed to promote and protect human rights. Several more legally binding treaties were to follow, the most important of which are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (hereinafter, the Covenant) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These treaties were enacted in 1966 and came into force in 1976. Over 140 States have ratified the Covenant so far. However, States are not willing to create an 'international' or a 'global' human rights court, which thus leaves the supervision and enforcement of international human rights norms up to various different bodies and authorities, the most important one being the UN and its various organs. The UN does not operate as one central body, but rather implements its human rights policy via a network of subsidiary bodies and is thus generally regarded as being 'a decentralised and poorly coordinated system.' It is left to each human rights treaty to provide its own monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

It is the functioning of...