August 17, 1949: The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260. The convention entered into force on 12 January 1951. It defines genocide in legal terms, and is the culmination of years of campaigning by lawyer Raphael Lemkin. All participating countries are advised to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. Ratified on March 9, 1950.
December 8, 1949: The First Geneva Convention, for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, is one of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It defines “the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts.” The Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field was adopted in 1864. It was significantly revised and replaced by the 1906 version, the 1929 version, and later the First Geneva Convention of 1949. It is inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions. Ratified on July 6, 1951.
December 8, 1949: The Second Geneva Convention, for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea was first adopted in 1906, after the Russo-Japanese war, but was significantly updated and replaced by the Second Geneva Convention of 1949. It adapts the main protections of the First Geneva Convention to combat at sea. Ratified on July 6, 1951.
December 8, 1949: The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was first adopted in 1929, but significantly revised and replaced by the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. It defines humanitarian protections for prisoners of war. There are 196 state parties to the Convention. Ratified on July 6, 1951.
December 8, 1949: The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone. Ratified on July 6, 1951.
August 1, 1951: The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR) is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of travel Documents issued under the convention. Ratified on October 1, 1951.
October 1, 1954: The Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons is a 1960 United Nations multilateral treaty that aims to protect stateless individuals. Ratified December 23, 1958.
August 10, 1961: The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is a 1961 United Nations multilateral treaty whereby sovereign states agree to reduce the incidence of statelessness. The Convention was originally intended as a Protocol to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, while the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was adopted to cover stateless persons who are not refugees and therefore not within the scope of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
March 7, 1966: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A third-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. Controversially, the Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations. The Convention also includes an individual complaints mechanism, effectively making it enforceable against its parties. This has led to the development of a limited jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Convention. The convention was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 1965, and entered into force on 4 January 1969. As of April 2013, it has 87 signatories and 177 parties. Ratified on January 3, 1979.
December 19, 1966: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and in force from 3 January 1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to the Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories and individuals, including labour rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. As of 2014, the Covenant had 162 parties. A further seven countries, including the United States of America, had signed but not yet ratified the Covenant. Ratified on October 3, 1991.
December 19, 1966: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 16 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976. It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of April 2014, the Covenant has 74 signatories and 168 parties. Ratified on October 3, 1991.
July 17, 1980: The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on September 3, 1981 and has been ratified by 188 states. Ratified October 3, 1981.
July 21, 1980: The Protection of Diplomats Convention (formally, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents) is a United Nations anti-terrorism treaty that codifies some of the traditional principles on the necessity of protecting diplomats.
November 19, 1980: The Hostages Convention (formally the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages) is a United Nations treaty by which states agree to prohibit and punish hostage taking. The treaty includes definitions of “hostage” and “hostage taking” and sets out the principle of aut dedere aut judicare—that a party to the treaty must prosecute a hostage taker if no other state requests his or her extradition for prosecution of the same crime.
October 22, 1986: The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations Convention against Torture) is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment around the world. The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their borders, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured. Ratified on October 3, 1991.
July 30, 1990: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC, CROC, or UNCRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under a state’s own domestic legislation. Ratified on October 3, 1991.
January 22, 1999: The Terrorist Bombings Convention (formally the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings) is a 1997 United Nations treaty designed to criminalise terrorist bombings. The convention describes terrorist bombings as the unlawful and intentional use of explosives in public places with intention to kill, to injure, or to cause extensive destruction to compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing some act. Ratified in February 10, 2003.
July 11, 2000: The Terrorist Financing Convention (formally, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism) is a 1999 United Nations treaty designed to criminalise acts of financing terrorist activities. The convention also seeks to promote police and judicial co-operation to prevent, investigate and punish the financing of such acts. As of August 2013, the treaty has been ratified by 186 states; in terms of universality, it is therefore one of the most successful anti-terrorism treaties in history. Ratified in February 10, 2003.
November 14, 2001: The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict is an international treaty whereby states agree to (1) prohibit the conscription into the military of children under the age of 18 and (2) ensure that military volunteers under the age of 18 are exempted from taking a direct part in hostilities. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the treaty as a supplementary protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child by resolution 54/263 on 25 May 2000. The protocol came into force on 12 February 2002. The protocol requires that ratifying governments ensure that while their armed forces can accept volunteers below the age of 18, they cannot be conscripted and “States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities”. Non-state actors and guerrilla forces are forbidden from recruiting anyone under the age of 18 for any purpose. As of May 2014, 156 states are party to the protocol and another 17 states have signed but not ratified it.
Ratified: Convention against Discrimination in Education is a multilateral treaty adopted by UNESCO in 14 December 1960 in Paris aiming to combat segregation in the field of education. The Convention also ensures the right to use or teach their own languages for national minorities. and prohibits any reservation. It has entered into force in 1962. There is an additional Protocol Instituting a Conciliation and Good offices Commission, adopted in 1962 and entering force in 1968.