International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Article 3 of the UDHR states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”[1] This right was reaffirmed in by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), which protects the right to life (Article 6) and the right to liberty and security of person (Article 9).[2] The ICCPR also upholds the right of both men and women to enjoy the civil and political rights in the covenant (Article 3)[3] and equal protection under the law (Article 14).[4] Though these articles do not explicitly refer to violence against women, in recent years, the Human Rights Committee has interpreted them to include obligations to protect women from violence.

General Comment No. 35, adopted in December of 2014, specifically addresses State Parties’ obligation to protect women from domestic violence and gender-based violence against women:

“States parties must take both measures to prevent future injury and retrospective measures, such as enforcement of criminal laws, in response to past injury. For example, States parties must respond appropriately to patterns of violence against categories of victims such as intimidation of human rights defenders and journalists, retaliation against witnesses, violence against women, including domestic violence, the hazing of conscripts in the armed forces, violence against children, violence against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and violence against persons with disabilities.”[5]

General Comment No. 36, adopted in September of 2019, also addresses gender-based violence against women as a deprivation of the right to life:

“Any deprivation of life based on discrimination in law or in fact is ipso facto arbitrary in nature. Femicide, which constitutes an extreme form of gender-based violence that is directed against girls and women, is a particularly grave form of assault on the right to life.”[6]

[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, supra note 1, Art. 3.

[2] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976, available at

[3] ICCPR, supra note 4, Art. 3.

[4] ICCPR, supra note 4, Art. 14.

[5] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, General comment No. 35 Article 9 (Liberty and security of person), (16 December 2014), U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/GC/35, ¶9.

[6] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, General Comment No. 36, Article 6: right to life, (3 September 2019) U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/GC/36, ¶61.