1976: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly passed the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), and it entered into effect in 1976. The tragedies of World War II and
other totalitarian regimes in the 20th century inspired the establishment of the ICCPR. The goal
of the ICCPR was to establish a set of universal human rights that would be protected by
international law.

As human rights legislation progresses, the ICCPR marked a major milestone. The right to life,
freedom from torture, and a fair trial are just a few of the civil and political rights that were
guaranteed by this historic convention, the first of its kind on a global scale. Freedom of
expression and peaceful assembly, both crucial to the wellbeing of any democratic society,
were also deemed important by the ICCPR’s drafters.

There is little doubt that the United States’ adoption of the ICCPR in 1976 was a watershed
moment for human rights everywhere. It proved the significance of international collaboration
in promoting and safeguarding human rights, and the dedication of the United States to those
ends. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is still largely regarded
as one of the most significant human rights accords in the world today, and for good reason.