International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights contains important guarantees for the protection of civil and political rights. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966. Switzerland acceded to the Convention on 18 June 1992.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantees traditional civil rights and freedoms. Together with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), it enacts in a binding framework the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The ICCPR includes inter alia the following human rights:

  • Protection of physical integrity
    Right to life, prohibition of torture, prohibition of genocide

  • Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political position, fortune, origins, etc.

  • Prohibition of slavery and forced labour, arbitrary detention, protection of the dignity of people deprived of their liberty

  • Procedural rights

  • Freedom of thought, religion, movement and freedom of assembly

  • Political rights
    Right to vote and stand for election, equal access to public office

The ICCPR was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966 and came into force on 23 March 1976. Switzerland ratified the Convention on 18 June 1992, where it came into force on 18 September that year.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Review mechanism

The UN's Human Rights Committee is the body that reviews states parties' compliance with their obligations under the ICCPR. Each state party must submit a country report in principle every four years informing the Committee of the measures they have adopted to implement the civil and political rights under the Covenant (see Art. 16 and 40 ICCPR).

To date Switzerland has submitted four reports on the implementation of the ICCPR: in 1995, 1998, 2007 and 2015. In response to its reports, Switzerland receives recommendations by the Human Rights Committee on ways in which the country could better fulfil its obligations under the ICCPR. The Committee has not yet made its recommendations on the latest report. 

The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) is responsible for Switzerland's country reports on the implementation of its obligations under the ICCPR.

Information on the ICCPR and Switzerland's country reports (de, fr, it)

UN Human Rights Committee

Interstate complaints procedure

The ICCPR also includes an optional interstate complaints procedure whereby states parties can recognise the competence of the Human Rights Committee to receive state party complaints. This allows them to submit a communication to the Committee alleging that another state party is not fulfilling its obligations under the ICCPR. However, the Human Rights Committee can only consider the substance of the case if the states fail to satisfactorily settle the matter between them. Switzerland has recognised the complaints procedure.

Optional protocols

The ICCPR has two optional protocols:

  1. First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    Individuals under the jurisdiction of a state party who claim that their rights and freedoms under the Covenant have been violated can submit a written communication to the Human Rights Committee. The UN concluded the optional protocol on 16 December 1966. It came into force on 23 March 1976. 

  2. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty
    The protocol obliges states parties to abolish the death penalty.  The UN concluded the protocol on 15 December 1989 and it came into force on 11 July 1991.

Switzerland ratified the second optional protocol on 16 June 1994 and it came into force on 16 September 1994. Switzerland has not adopted the first optional protocol.

First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights