The Encyclopedia is a project of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights launched on 2 December 2013. The Enyclopedia aims to provide accurate, up-to-date information on weapons, the effects of their use, and their regulation under public international law, in a format that is accessible to non-specialists.+ Find out more
International human rights law seeks to guarantee human rights to all human beings without discrimination. As with other branches of international law, the sources of human rights are found in treaties, customary international law, and general principles of law. While the primary obligations under international human rights law are upon states it is increasingly accepted that other actors, such as corporations or armed groups, must also at least respect fundamental human rights. Under weapons law, the rights to life, to freedom from torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, to liberty, to health, and to freedom of assembly are especially important.
Among many human rights treaties, the two 1966 International Covenants (on civil and political rights and on social, economic and cultural rights, respectively) are especially significant. In its determination that the right to life applied "in principle" to the use of nuclear weapons as a means of warfare in an international armed conflict, the International Court of Justice specifically referred to Article 6 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.See 1996 Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion, para. 25. This demonstrates that human rights law appliesThis is subject to the possibility of derogation from full observance of certain rights permitted by a number of treaties. The rights to life and to freedom from torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment are not subject to derogation. in situations of armed conflict, a fact that today is rarely disputed. This also clearly implies that the Covenant applies extraterritorially, an issue that is generally accepted but which has been contested by Israel and the United States of America.
Last updated on: 07 January 2014