Learn about the International Human Rights Framework
The primary aim of IJRC’s online resource hub is to assist victims of human rights abuses, students, lawyers and human rights defenders to effectively research international human rights standards and keep informed of legal developments.
This section allows visitors to learn about the following features of the international human rights system:
- Overview of the Human Rights Framework: on the history and functions of the different bodies and laws that make up the international human rights framework.
- Universal Tribunals, Monitoring Bodies and Rapporteurs: the United Nations system includes several components relevant to human rights, and among them are a number of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. These include: the International Court of Justice, which does not have a specific human rights mandate, but may decide inter-State disputes related to human rights; the treaty bodies established to oversee compliance with specific UN human rights treaties (and in some cases receive individual complaints against States). The UN Human Rights Council oversees the Universal Periodic Review of States’ human rights practices, and also charges independent experts (“special procedures“) with monitoring the human rights practices relevant to particular thematic areas or countries.
- Regional Human Rights Tribunals and Rapporteurs: the three regional human rights systems established in Europe, the Americas and Africa are the principal mechanisms for establishing State responsibility for human rights violations and obtaining reparations for victims in the countries that belong to them. There are also two less-established systems in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
- National Systems: domestic courts and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) play an important role in enforcing international human rights law and international criminal law. This section explains the functions of NHRIs and provides some examples of prominent cases handled by national courts, including through the exercise of universal jurisdiction, and a list of truth and reconciliation commissions.
- Related Legal Frameworks
- International Criminal Law: this related, but distinct, area of international law creates individual criminal liability for particularly grave and/or widespread human rights violations. The courts specifically established to enforce international criminal law include the International Criminal Court and international and internationalized criminal tribunals.
- International Humanitarian Law: also known as the laws of war and the law of armed conflict, this body of law provides the framework applicable to situations of armed conflict and occupation.
- Courts and Tribunals of Regional Economic Communities: In addition to the various regional and universal human rights mechanisms established exclusively and specifically for the promotion and protection of human rights, a number of other dispute settlement bodies – often related to economic integration initiatives – may decide cases involving individuals’ and communities’ fundamental rights.
- Refugee Law: the international law governing asylum and refugee claims is closely related to international human rights protection, as well as to national immigration policies.
- Thematic Research Guides: explaining the major human rights – from the right to assembly and association to work and labor rights – and the ways in which they are protected and enforced.
- IJRC Publications: our original handbooks and manuals provide more detailed explanations and analysis of different aspects of the international human rights framework.