Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Scope of Human Rights Obligations

The United States is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but do the legal obligations imposed by the Covenant on the government of the United States extend beyond its borders? In particular, does Article 7, which states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," apply to Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, or other detention centers under United States control but outside the territory of the United States?

The United States argued before the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Monday that its obligations under the ICCPR do not apply extraterritorially. For an interesting discussion of this stance (and the Human Rights Committee's contrary position), see this post at Opinio Juris. (Be sure to read the comments.)