Patrick Thornberry
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The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights I
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The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly and entered into force on 23 March 1976. The Covenant has been ratified by 148 States, including many with significant indigenous populations. The Covenant is a complex statement of rights incorporating several domains of discourse: those of collective rights (self-determination), undifferentiated individual rights (most of the text), and minority rights (Article 27); it does not include a specific article on indigenous rights. The First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which allows for communications from individuals who claim to be victims of violations of Covenant rights, has 98 States' parties. In the main text of the ICCPR and the Optional Protocol, procedures for implementation centre on the eighteen-member Human Rights Committee (HRC), elected as independent experts by secret ballot of the States' parties. The Committee formally takes decisions by simple majority, but working methods allow for attempts to reach a consensus—an approach ‘which has been the rule ever since the Committee' inception’.

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