International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Government can invoke a state of emergency during civil unrest, a disaster, or an armed conflict. In a state of emergency, a government has the authority to execute certain actions which are not normally permitted. In these extraordinary circumstances government directs its institutions to implement emergency action plans. During a state of emergency people can be detained without a reason and their fundamental rights and freedoms may be suspended temporarily.

But sometimes a state of emergency can be imposed by governments as a pretext for suspending civil rights and freedoms as enshrined under a country’s Constitution or to suppress internal dissension without any respect to basic human rights.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. ICCPR mandates that

  • Article 4 of the ICCPR lists the non-derogable rights that cannot be suspended under the state of emergency. such as right to life, freedom from torture or degrading treatment or punishment, and the rights to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty and freedom of slavery.
  • ICCPR also mandates that while taking steps to curb the volatile situation that has led to an emergency the parties to covenant ensure that measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.
  • The signatories to the Covenant are, however, expected to bring the law into national legislation

ICCPR is an international law document signed by various states. ICCPR establishes an oversight mechanism under the watch of UNHRC to ensure that the human rights are not abrogated by the countries under the ambit of addressing the emergency situation. [Reference]


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