The International Bill of Human Rights

The International Bill of Human Rights is an informal name given to two international treaties and one General Assembly resolution established by the United Nations. They consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations in 1948; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted in 1966; along with its two Optional Protocols and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in 1966.  

At the 1945 San Francisco Conference, held to draft the Charter for United Nations, a proposal to draft “a declaration on the essential rights of man” was put forward.  Since it required more detailed consideration, it was not examined at that time.  The next sitting of the Preparatory Commission of the UN, decided to establish a commission for the promotion of human rights, and the commission on human rights was established in early 1946. 

Following this, two documents were prepared: one in the form of a declaration that set forth general principles or standards of human rights; and the other in the form of a convention, which defines specific rights and their limitations.  In December 1947, the Commission decided to apply the term “International Bill of Human Rights” to the series of documents for the promotion of human rights and established three working groups: one on the declaration, one on the convention (which was renamed as “covenant”) and one on implementation.  On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the first of these projected instruments.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were adopted by the General Assembly on December 16, 1966. The first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the same resolution, provided international machinery for dealing with communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights set forth in the Covenant.


Inside The International Bill of Human Rights