The states are then bound to respect them or they can be held responsible at an international level.
The problem ? Certain states have a dualistic practice : in order to refer to a Convention, the legislator must still adopt a national law incorporating it.
Right enforceable in court. The problem? All conventions do not possess norms and articles directly justiciable by individuals allowing them to enforce this right before a tribunal.
Formal text entailing fundamental principles such as the Universal declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The problem? Such documents are not legally binding.
From its Latin root word « Leaf of Paper », listing rights for the benefit of a community like the International Bill of Human Rights comprising the 1948 Declaration and the two 1966 Covenants.
The problem? Depending on the specific case, a charter is either a legally binding document such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights or a compilation of documents such as the International Bill of Human Rights
Written agreement among states proving they have reached an agreement on a specific subject and that they engage to respect it, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Convention is synonym to Covenant and Treaty and is legally binding but only for the states that have ratified it. An exception is the European Convention on Human Rights of 1998 which is automatically accepted by European states upon signature, without ratification.
The problem ? A convention binds states but there are no world entities capable of sanctioning states if they do not bind themselves. However, certain regional conventions, such as the European Convention, have created a Court competent to judge breaches made by states or individuals.
Collegial entity of members to whom was conferred an administrative or judicial function.
Small group of people invested with power of surveillance and decision. The Committee on Human Rights, CDH, may request periodical reports and give its opinion on a states’ conduct.
Each convention is monitored by a Committee such as the Committee on Human Rights CDH, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights CESCR, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination CERD, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women CEDAW, the Committee Against Torture CAT and the Committee on the Rights of the Child CRC, but the committees do not have the power to sanction offenders.
However, when they examine individual petitions, their opinions “almost” have judgement value.
The problem ? The Committee on Human Rights may receive individual petitions and communications only if the state has ratified the first protocol.
Assembly of people deliberating on a given subject. The problem? Before reaching a decision the council makes a consultation and the decision does not have force of law.
Individual and concrete act which applies general or abstract norms entailed in a law or convention to a particular situation, to one or more identified individuals. For instance, an assembly decides to create an enquiry commission, to suspend measures, to formulate an opinion on a particular fact, etc…
The problem ? a decision has force of law but does not relate to a violation.
Written act inviting concerned parties to find a solution to an invoked problem. It makes recommendation to a state not to violate a certain Human Right. The problem? A recommendation is not legally binding.
Written act voted by a deliberating entity. The problem? A resolution is not legally binding.
Norm that legally binds States or individuals. The problem? On Human Rights matters, States only bind themselves. The European Court of Human Rights is an exception as it puts obligation on States.
Compulsory but non-executory
Norm that legally binds states but with no direct applicability. The problem? It cannot be used by an individual in a tribunal to assert his rights.
Opinion expressed by a Court in response to a given question. The problem? They are not judgements, nor decisions but solely legal opinions.
Basic principle in International law stating that State A has obligations towards State B, but only if B accepts the obligations towards A.
The exception? Human rights: even if B has not ratified a treaty, A that has ratified it for its nationals must also apply it to B nationals.
Principle of subsidiarity
Basic principle of Human Rights according to which a resort to an international jurisdiction is possible only if all national procedures have been exhausted. This works to compensate the fact that Human Rights breach the exclusive sphere of States.
The problem? A victim of Human Rights violations must first have recourse to the courts of its state before turning to the UN or to a regional entity - European, American or African - while it is generally the state that is the offender.
Tribunal emitting judgements, decisions. The problem? There are no Court of Human Rights within the UN. The international court of justice in The Hague - ICJ – settles disputes between states. The International Criminal Court in The Hague – ICC – condemns individuals and not states for crimes against humanity.