International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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US Fourth ICCPR Report, IHRL and IHL

The US Government recently submitted to the Human Rights Committee its fourth periodic report on its compliance with the ICCPR. On the issues near and dear to my heart – the extraterritorial application of the ICCPR and the relationship between IHRL and IHL – the new report presents a significant softening of the US position. Or, to be more precise, the report leaves the door open for a shift in the US position in the relatively near future (assuming, I imagine, that Obama manages to win re-election). Thus, paras. 504-505 of the report on extraterritoriality summarize the previous US position and those of the HRC and the ICJ, but do not contest the latter.  Paras. 506-507 on IHL are a bit more meaningful, and bear quoting in full: 506. With respect to the application of the Covenant and the international law of armed conflict (also referred to as international humanitarian law or “IHL”), the United States has not taken the position that the Covenant does not apply “in time of war.” Indeed, a time of…

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