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International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 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 Covenant on 18 June 1992.

The ICCPR guarantees traditional civil rights and liberties. Together with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), it sets out a binding framework for the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The ICCPR includes the following:

  • The right to life and the prohibition of torture
  • The prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, etc.
  • The prohibition of slavery and forced labour
  • Procedural rights
  • Freedom of thought, religion, association and assembly
  • Political rights

The ICCPR was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966 and came into force on 23 March 1976. Switzerland acceded to the Covenant on 18 June 1992. It entered into force in the country on 18 September 1992.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Review mechanism

The UN's Human Rights Committee is the body that reviews states parties' compliance with their obligations under the ICCPR. As a rule, states parties are required to submit a country report every four years detailing the measures they have taken to implement the rights and freedoms set out in the Covenant (Art. 40 ICCPR).

To date Switzerland has submitted four reports on its implementation of the ICCPR, most recently in 2015.

The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) is in charge of Switzerland's country reports on 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. The procedure allows them to submit a communication to the Committee alleging that another state party is not fulfilling its obligations under the ICCPR. 

Optional protocols

The ICCPR has two optional protocols:

  1. First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    This allows individuals to submit an individual complaint to the Human Rights Committee if one of their rights under the ICCPR has been violated. The first optional protocol was adopted by the UN 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 second optional protocol obliges states parties to abolish the death penalty. It was adopted by the UN on 15 December 1989 and came into force on 11 July 1991.

The second optional protocol was ratified by Switzerland on 16 June 1994, where it came into force on 16 September 1994. Switzerland has not ratified 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

Last update 07.03.2022