Human rights have been widely defined as being rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Internationally, human rights are guaranteed and protected by various forms of legally binding instruments including treaties, customary international law, general principles, and other sources of international law. Together this body of law is known as International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and as it is a subset of public international law it is primarily addressed to States. IHRL limits what the State can do to its subjects and protects individuals from excesses that a State may commit.

Status of International Humans Rights’ Treaties in Pakistan

While there are various international law treaties that ensure the rights of individuals, nine human rights treaties form the core of the human rights framework in international law. Out of these nine conventions, Pakistan has ratified seven and is a party to hundreds of multilateral treaties and thousands of bilateral treaties and commitments etc. This shows the State’s willingness to operate in accordance with international law. 



Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 Widely accepted as customary international law. 
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965 Ratification 1966
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966Ratification 2010
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966  Ratification 2008
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979 Ratification 1996
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984Ratification 2010
Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 Ratification 1990
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families 1999 No action
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography 2002 Ratification 2011
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict 2002 Ratification 2016
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 2006 No action
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008  Ratification 2011

Domestic Legal Framework

Article 268(7) of the Constitution of Pakistan

Pakistan’s existing legal framework is articulated by Article 268(7) of the Constitution, which states that “all laws (including Ordinances, Orders-in-Council, Orders, rules, by- laws, regulations and Letters Patent constituting a High Court, and notifications and other legal instruments having the force of law) in force in Pakistan or any part thereof, or having extraterritorial validity…”. While the words of the provision do not explicitly mention inclusion of international law, the text strongly implies it. Due to this, international obligations form a significant part of the domestic rule of law and for the complete protection of the rule of law within the State, human rights commitments remain essential.

Domestic Implementation of International Obligations

The chapter on Fundamental Rights within the Constitution of Pakistan, which is essential to the protection of the domestic rule of law echoes many of the provisions of the ICCPR. International Law is widely entrenched in the domestic legal framework of Pakistan. There are various pieces of domestic law that replicate international law almost verbatim. The chapter on Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of Pakistan is identical to some of the provisions of the ICCPR. There are several other laws in Pakistan which closely correspond with provisions of international treaties which Pakistan has ratified. A few examples include:




Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and all subsequent Security Council ResolutionsUnited Nations (Security Council) Act 1948
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 and Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969
Certain provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders, more commonly known as “Bangkok rules”.

Pakistan Prison Rules 1978
Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1373, 1456Anti-Terrorism Act 1997
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, United Nations Convention against Corruption and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) RecommendationsAnti-Money Laundering Act 2010
General Agreement on Tariffs and TradeAnti-Dumping Duties Act 2015
Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade AgreementAfghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Rules 2011
Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions and Customary International Humanitarian LawActions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations 2011
Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlProhibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002
Chemical Weapons ConventionChemical Weapons Convention Implementation Ordinance 2000
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto ProtocolEnvironmental Protection Act 1997
Chicago Convention on International Civil AviationCivil Aviation Authority Ordinance 1982
United Nations Convention on the Law of the SeaTerritorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act 1976
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed ConflictAntiquities Act 1975
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act 1972
United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by SeaCarriage of Goods by Sea Act 1925