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“No cause is worthier than the cause of human rights. They are what makes a man human.
Deny them and you deny man’s humanity” said by the great Ka Pepe Diokno during the martial
law, where violation of human rights was rampant. Human rights are universal legal guarantees
protecting individuals and groups against actions which interfere with fundamental freedoms and
human dignity. Human rights are generally defined as those rights which are inherent in our
nature and without which, we cannot live as human beings. These rights and fundamental
freedoms allow us to develop and use our human qualities, intelligence, talents and conscience,
and to satisfy our spiritual and other needs. The dignity of man and human life is inviolable. From
the dignity of man is derived the right of every person to free development of his personality. It's
the essence of these rights that make man human. In the Philippines, specifically in Article II of
our 1987 Constitution, Section 11, it reads “The State values the dignity of every human person
and guarantees full respect for human rights.” To implement this policy, the Commission on
Human Rights was created as a constitutional independent body under Article XIII, Sections 17-
19 of the Phil. Constitution. This resulted to a substantial decrease of number of violations among
law enforcement in the human rights, but there is still much to be done. History has shown that
as man started to live in a society, his inherent rights began to be violated by his own fellowmen.
The state authorities who are supposed to protect his rights are even his persecutors. And, up
until now, it is prevalent or evident in today’s current administration that the government is still
violating individual’s human rights. Extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern
in the country for many years and, after a sharp rise with the onset of the antidrug campaign in
2016, they continued in 2017. From January to the end of September, media reports chronicled
more than 900 fatalities in police operations suspected to be connected with the government’s
antidrug campaign. Police claimed to have begun investigations of all reports of extrajudicial
killings. As of August, police claimed to have resolved 1,889 cases, and 4,373 remained under


The United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) attempts to
ensure the protection of civil and political rights. It was adopted by the United Nations’ General
Assembly on December 19, 1966, and it came into force on March 23, 1976. The International
Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
and the ICCPR and its two Optional Protocols, are collectively known as the International Bill of

The ICCPR recognizes the inherent dignity of each individual and undertakes to promote
conditions within states to allow the enjoyment of civil and political rights. Countries that have
ratified the Covenant are obligated “to protect and preserve basic human rights… [and]
“compel[ed] to take administrative, judicial, and legislative measures in order to protect the rights
enshrined in the treaty and to provide an effective remedy.” There are currently 74 signatories
and 168 parties to the ICCPR.

The unifying themes and values of the ICCPR are found in Articles 2 and 3 and are based on the
notion of non-discrimination. Article 2 ensures that rights recognized in the ICCPR will be
respected and be available to everyone within the territory of those states who have ratified the
Covenant (State Party). Article 3 ensures the equal right of both men and women to the enjoyment
of all civil and political rights set out in the ICCPR.

The rights protected under the ICCPR include:

Article 6 – Right to life.
Article 7 – Freedom from torture.
Article 8 – Right to not be enslaved.
Article 9 – Right to liberty and security of the person.
Article 10 – Rights of detainees.
Article 11 – Right to not be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual
Article 12 – Freedom of movement and choice of residence for lawful residents.
Article 13 – Rights of aliens.
Article 14 – Equality before the courts and tribunals. Right to a fair trial.
Article 15 – No one can be guilty of an act of a criminal offence which did not constitute a criminal
Article 16 – Right to recognition as a person before the law.
Article 17 – Freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference.
Article 18 – Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Article 19 – Right to hold opinions without interference.
Article 20 – Propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
Article 21 – Right of peaceful assembly.
Article 22 – Right to freedom of association with others.
Article 23 – Right to marry.
Article 24 – Children’s rights
Article 25 – Right to political participation.
Article 26 – Equality before the law.
Article 27 – Minority protection.

Article 4 of ICCPR allows for certain circumstances for States Parties to derogate from their
responsibilities under the Covenant, such as during times of public emergencies. However, State
Parties may not derogate from Articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18.

There are two optional protocols to the ICCPR which gives additional human rights protections.
First Optional Protocol:
This protocol allows victims claiming to be victims of human rights violations to be heard. The
Human Rights Committee (Committee), which is established by the Covenant, has the jurisdiction
to receive, consider and hear communications from victims. The first Optional Protocol came into
force with the Covenant. There are currently 35 signatories and 115 parties to this protocol.

Second Optional Protocol:

This protocol aims to abolish the death penalty. It was entered into force on July 11, 1991 and it
currently has 37 signatories and 81 parties.

Article 2(2) of ICCPR provides that State Parties are to take the “necessary steps…. to adopt
such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the
present Covenant.” Countries that have ratified the ICCPR must takes steps in their own
jurisdictions to recognize the acceptance of this international covenant because, in “international
law, a signature does not usually bind a State. The treaty is usually subject to a future ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession.” In Canada, the accession process involves a series of
reviews and consultation by the federal government and followed by a tabling of the treaty in

In addition to State Parties’ formally adopting and recognizing the ICCPR in their jurisdiction,
Article 28 of ICCPR provides for a Human Rights Committee (Committee) to be established for
monitoring the State Parties’ implementation of the Covenant. State Parties are required to submit
reports to the Committee for review, on measures used to adopt and give effect to the rights
enshrined in the ICCPR.

As mentioned above, the First Optional Protocol allows victims of human rights violation to be
heard by the Committee. However, the ICCPR also provides in Article 41 that a State Party who
claims another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations to implement ICCPR, may make written
submissions to the Committee for consideration. Also, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
may also participate in ensuring that values under the ICCPR are protected by submitting ‘shadow
reports’ and highlight areas for consideration by the Committee.


The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a
multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966
through GA. Resolution 2200A (XXI), and came in force from 3 January 1976.[1] It commits its
parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to the Non-
Self-Governing and Trust Territories and individuals, including labour rights and the right to health,
the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. As of September 2018, the
Covenant has 169 parties. A further four countries, including the United States, have signed but
not ratified the Covenant.
The ICESCR (and its Optional Protocol) is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along
with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR), including the latter's first and second Optional Protocols. The
Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and the ICCPR, with a preamble and thirty-one
articles, divided into five parts.[12]

Part 1 (Article 1) recognises the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to
"freely determine their political status",[13] pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and
manage and dispose of their own resources. It recognises a negative right of a people not to be
deprived of its means of subsistence,[14] and imposes an obligation on those parties still
responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their

Part 2 (Articles 2–5) establishes the principle of "progressive realisation" – see below. It also
requires the rights be recognised "without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status".[16] The rights can only be limited by law, in a manner compatible with the nature of the
rights, and only for the purpose of "promoting the general welfare in a democratic society".[17]

Part 3 (Articles 6–15) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to work, under "just and
favourable conditions",[18] with the right to form and join trade unions (Articles 6, 7, and 8);
social security, including social insurance (Article 9); family life, including paid parental leave and
the protection of children (Article 10); an adequate standard of living, including adequate food,
clothing and housing, and the "continuous improvement of living conditions" (Article 11); health,
specifically "the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" (Article 12); education,
including free universal primary education, generally available secondary education and equally
accessible higher education. This should be directed to "the full development of the human
personality and the sense of its dignity",[19] and enable all persons to participate effectively in
society (Articles 13 and 14); participation in cultural life (Article 15). Many of these rights include
specific actions which must be undertaken to realise them.

Part 4 (Articles 16–25) governs reporting and monitoring of the Covenant and the steps taken by
the parties to implement it. It also allows the monitoring body – originally the United Nations
Economic and Social Council – now the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights –
see below – to make general recommendations to the UN General Assembly on appropriate
measures to realise the rights (Article 21)

Part 5 (Articles 26–31) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.

International Monitoring and Implementation

The implementation of the Covenant is monitored by the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (CESCR). With the Covenant, state parties did not establish a Committee to
oversee and monitor the implementation of the Covenant. Instead, the Committee was
established by the UN Economic and Social Council to carry out the monitoring functions.

The Committee was established in 1985 and meets on an annual basis at the United Nations in
Geneva. The Committee comprises 18 members who are experts with recognized competence
in the field of human rights. Members of the Committee are elected by the states parties and the
principles of equitable geographical distribution and the representation of different social and legal
systems guide the selection process. The members are independent and serve in their personal
capacity, not as representatives of Governments. The Committee is serviced by the United
Nations Centre for Human Rights.

According to a UN ICESCR factsheet, “The primary function of the Committee is to monitor the
implementation of the Covenant by States parties. It strives to develop a constructive dialogue
with States parties and seeks to determine through a variety of means whether or not the norms
contained in the Covenant are being adequately applied in States parties and how the
implementation and enforcement of the Covenant could be improved so that all people who are
entitled to the rights enshrined in the Covenant can actually enjoy them in full.

States parties are required to submit periodic reports to the Committee - within two years of the
entry into force of the Covenant for a particular State party, and thereafter once every five years
- outlining the legislative, judicial, policy and other measures which they have taken to ensure the
enjoyment of the rights contained in the Covenant. States parties are also requested to provide
detailed data on the degree to which the rights are implemented and areas where particular
difficulties have been faced in this respect.

The Committee examines reports transmitted by each State party and issues responses to these
in the form of concluding observations where the Committee outlines its concerns and makes
suggestions and recommendations. The Committee may furthermore issue general comments
which are intended to assist and promote States parties’ implementation of the Covenant, suggest
improvements in the reporting procedures and stimulate the activities of States parties,
international organizations and United Nations specialized agencies concerned with achieving
progressively and effectively the full realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant.

The Committee works on the basis of many sources of information, including reports submitted
by States parties and information from United Nations specialized agencies - International Labour
Organisation, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, World Health
Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and from the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements (Habitat) and others. It also receives information from non-governmental and
community-based organizations. working in States which have ratified the Covenant, from
international human rights and other non-governmental organizations, from other United Nations
treaty bodies, and from generally available literature.” The Committee was the first treaty body to
provide NGOs “with the opportunity to submit written statements and make oral submissions
dealing with issues relating to the enjoyment or non-enjoyment of the rights contained in the
Covenant in specific countries. State parties that ratify the Optional Protocol recognize “the
competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications” (including complaints)
…. “submitted by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals, under the jurisdiction
of a State Party, claiming to be victims of a violation of any of the economic, social and
cultural rights set forth in the Covenant by that State Party.”


Adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of
rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes
discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such

The Convention defines discrimination against women as "...any distinction, exclusion or

restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the
recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of
equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic,
social, cultural, civil or any other field."

The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through
ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life -- including
the right to vote and to stand for election -- as well as education, health and employment. States
parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special
measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women
and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It
affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their
children. States parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in
women and exploitation of women.

The Convention has a similar format to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination, "both with regard to the scope of its substantive obligations and its
international monitoring mechanisms".[3] The Convention is structured in six parts with 30 articles

Part I (Articles 1-6) focuses on non-discrimination, sex stereotypes, and sex trafficking.
Part II (Articles 7-9) outlines women's rights in the public sphere with an emphasis on political
life, representation, and rights to nationality.
Part III (Articles 10-14) describes the economic and social rights of women, particularly
focusing on education, employment, and health. Part III also includes special protections for rural
women and the problems they face.
Part IV (Article 15 and 16) outlines women's right to equality in marriage and family life along
with the right to equality before the law.
Part V (Articles 17-22) establishes the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women as well as the states parties' reporting procedure.
Part VI (Articles 23-30) describes the effects of the Convention on other treaties, the
commitment of the states parties and the administration of the Convention.

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures

to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:
 to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish
all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against
 to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of
women against discrimination; and
 to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons,
organizations or enterprises.

Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions
into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on
measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.


The Convention on the Rights of the Child is composed mainly of 54 Articles, with 41 Articles
pertaining and granting rights to Children while 13 articles act as part of the implementing rules
and regulations.

The Convention focused heavily on expanding the already set out first 10 rights under the
Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Branching out from 10, the convention is
anchored mainly on 4 principles, The Principles of Non Discrimination, Best Interests of the Child,
Survival and Development and The Views of the Child. The Convention set out to strengthen the
areas of development and safety of the child, from ensuring an environment free of discrimination
and oppression to ensure the proper growth. Stemming from the 4 principles, the Convention
granted Children the status of primacy with regards not only to their social and economic rights
but also to their individuality and self determination.

The Convention understands that the World must protect the Children and shield them from
further atrocities. To ensure they grow up well, free from disease and ignorance, the committee
adopted articles that mandated access to healthcare and education as basic requirement for all
children not just those who could afford it. The push for universal healthcare and education around
the world has roots in the continuing adoption of Human Rights. From basic necessities like food,
water and shelter, the right to healthcare and education has now been recognized to be as of
utmost important as well.
The Convention believes that all children are important, with the need to bolster non-
discrimination, all children inherently have all the rights. Regardless of sex, race, gender or
nationality, the Convention recognizes all because the only determining factor is the age.

The Convention recognizes growth and development as the long term goal for every child.
With that, the state must provide the environment to ensure the prospective life of a child to be
lived at the fullest. This means the access to education and health is of paramount interest. The
long term goal to allow the child to finish his childhood in complete fulfillment without having to
cut this short and forcing him into labor.

The Convention respects the child and treats him with dignity. The Child can think for himself
and should be allowed to. The state cannot force a child to be pidgeon holed into beliefs or
outlooks that are not accepted by him. The way the state allows each individual to self determine,
the child must necessarily be able to do so as well, to find himself by himself.

The Convention recognizes disability and places the children afflicted with ailments on a
higher standard. The world rarely pays heed and attention to those disabled, the sheer lack of
access and inclusivity is apparent, thus the convention provides for more avenues for disabled
children to be able to seek redress and help. The Convention does its best not leave these
children to be left by their normal counterparts.

Translating child rights principles into practice requires action and leadership by
governments. By ratifying the Convention, States commit to undertaking "all appropriate
legislative, administrative and other measures" for the full realization of the rights it contains and
to reporting on these measures to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of experts
charged with monitoring States' implementation of the Convention. For more information on the
Committee, see the ‘Monitoring’ page in this section.

There are no specific right or wrong implementation measures, however the Convention
should be the main benchmark and inspiration for all government action. In its reviews of States’
reports, the Committee urges all levels of government to use the Convention as a guide in policy-
making and legislation, to:

 Develop a comprehensive national agenda;

 Develop permanent bodies or mechanisms to promote coordination, monitoring and
evaluation of activities throughout all sectors of government;
 Ensure that all legislation is fully compatible with the Convention and, if applicable the
Optional Protocols, by incorporating the provisions into domestic law or ensuring that they
take precedence in cases of conflict with national legislation;
 Make children visible in policy development processes throughout government by
introducing child impact assessments;
 Analyse government spending to determine the portion of public funds spent on children
and to ensure that these resources are being used effectively;
 Ensure that sufficient data are collected and used to improve the situation of all children
in each jurisdiction;
 Raise awareness and disseminate information on the Convention and the Optional
Protocols by providing training to all those involved in government policy-making and
working with or for children;
 Involve civil society b including children themselves – in the process of implementing and
raising awareness of child rights; and
 Set up independent national offices—ombudspersons, commissions, focal points within
national human rights institutions, or other institutions—to promote and protect children's

States’ parties to the Convention’s Optional Protocols have many of the same guidelines, and
also requirements specific to the Protocols. For example, States parties to the Optional Protocol
on the involvement of children in armed conflict must also undertake measures to ensure that
individuals under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in armed conflicts. This obligation applies
to measures involving 16-18 year old members of the armed forces. It also applies to legal
measures to prohibit independent armed groups from recruiting and using children under the age
of 18 in conflicts.

The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography requires
States to provide legal and other support services to child victims and specifically calls for
international cooperation to prevent and punish these abuses.



The International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Treatment and Punishment prohibits the use of torture at all times, even in times of war or when
there is threat of war or internal political instability or any other public emergency.

"Torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person
information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is
suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason
based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation
of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official
capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful
sanctions. 2 Aside from torture, the Convention also prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading
punishment or treatment (CID). The acts under this category usually do not involve the infliction
of physical injuries, but still cause the victim to undergo physical or mental suffering. Walking a
naked victim on a leash may not amount to torture, but qualifies as CID.
A CID which is repeatedly committed or committed over a long period of time may amount to
torture. For example, the chaining of a victim in a painful position for long hours may amount to
torture. Solitary confinement in a bartolina, with limited air and sun, and for a long period, could
amount to torture. This is more reprehensible in cases were the victim has not yet been convicted,
and thus is not yet serving a penalty. Solitary confinement may be justified for health or security
concerns, but must be done in emergency situations for short durations only.

When committed during an international armed conflict, torture can be considered as a “grave
breach,” which is prohibited under another international law, the Geneva Convention of 1949.
Even if a State has not ratified the CAT, it may still be liable under the Geneva Convention under
these circumstances.

If the torture is committed in systematic or widespread manner, it could amount to a “crime

against humanity,” as a crime punished under the Rome Statute which created the International
Criminal Court (ICC). Even if there is no armed conflict, whether international or internal, this
crime may be brought before the ICC.

Torture is also regarded as a jus cogens crime. States may proceed against another State
who commits torture, by invoking universal jurisdiction. In the case of the Guantanamo prison
torture, U.S. personalities like the former President George Bush and the legal experts who wrote
the “torture memos” have been warned that they will be arrested and prosecuted when they enter
certain countries.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CAT) makes it clear that torture is not justified under any circumstances.

States that sign up to the treaty must act to prevent and investigate torture and punish
anyone who carries it out. States must also ensure that any victim of torture (or their immediate
family if the victim dies) gets adequate compensation, including support for rehabilitation.

By ratifying CAT in 1988, State agrees to prevent acts of torture in connection with
activities that include:
 returning, expelling or extraditing someone to another country where there are real
grounds to believe he or she will face torture
 arrest, detention and imprisonment
 interrogation, and connected to
 the training of police (civil or military), medical staff, public officials and anyone else who
may be involved in the arrest, detention and questioning of a person.

6. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and
Members of Their Families (ICRMW)
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their
Families specifies human rights articled in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and expresses
explicitly how different rights apply to different categories of working migrants. Beyond already
existing limitations expressed by law, the Convention holds no provisions restricting the rights of
states to decide on immigration procedures.

The primary objective of the Convention is to foster respect for migrants' human rights.
Migrants are not only workers, they are also human beings. The Convention does not create new
rights for migrants but aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and the same working
conditions, including in case of temporary work, for migrants and nationals. The Convention
innovates because it relies on the fundamental notion that all migrants should have access to a
minimum degree of protection. The Convention recognizes that regular migrants have the
legitimacy to claim more rights than irregular immigrants, but it stresses that irregular migrants
must see their fundamental human rights respected, like all human beings.

In the meantime, the Convention proposes that actions be taken to eradicate clandestine
movements, notably through the fight against misleading information inciting people to migrate
irregularly, and through sanctions against traffickers and employers of undocumented migrants.

Article 7 of this Convention protects the rights of migrant workers and their families regardless
of "sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or
social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth, or other status".

This Convention is also recalled by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
at the Preamble.

Obligations of Contracting States

This UN-convention contains 93 clauses and is the longest human rights convention altogether.
In accordance with other human rights conventions, contracting parties are obliged to warrant the
human rights of working migrants listed in this convention without discrimination (Part II). In Part
III these human rights specific to migrants are listed separately. Part IV concerns itself with further
rights of migrant workers that regularly reside in their mother land. Part V entails regulations
concerning specific categories of foreigner like cross-border commuters, seasonal labourers and
travellers. Part VI lists regulations dealing with working migrants without a residence permit.

Monitoring Process

In Article 72 the Committee on Migrant Workers, consisting of 10 independent experts, is

mentioned. At present 41 states have ratified the convention and the committee is composed of
14 members. The contracting parties are obligated to submit a report on their efforts to implement
the regulations of the convention within one year of its entry into force and all five years thereafter.
The Philippines signed the treaty on Nov 15, 1993 and Ratified the same on Jul 5, 1995. The
number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who worked abroad at anytime during the period
April to September 2016 was estimated at 2.2 million. Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs) or
those with existing work contract comprised 97.5 percent of the total OFWs during the period
April to September 2016. The rest (2.5 %) worked overseas without contract


The main difference between contracts and treaties is that contracts are enforceable by an
overriding legal body. Although there is a body of international law and a series of supranational
institutions designed to enforce it, it's ultimately up to the nations involved to enforce it. There is
no supranational institution capable of effectively policing international law, so if other nations
aren't willing to engage in conflict or jeopardise their relationship with the affected parties they
often don't intervene.