U.S. denies private cause of action for violations of ICCPR
The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with five reservations, five understandings, and four declarations. Some have noted that with so many reservations, its implementation has little domestic effect. Included in the Senate’s ratification was the declaration that “the provisions of Article 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing”, and in a Senate Executive Report stated that the declaration was meant to “clarify that the Covenant will not create a private cause of action in U.S. Courts.”
Prominent critics in the human rights community, such as Prof. Louis Henkin (non-self-execution declaration incompatible with the Supremacy Clause) and Prof. Jordan Paust (“Rarely has a treaty been so abused.”) have denounced the United States’ ratification subject to the non-self-execution declaration as a blatant fraud upon the international community, especially in light of its subsequent failure to conform domestic law to the minimum human rights standards as established in the Covenant over the last fifteen years.
Indeed, the United States has not accepted a single international obligation required under the Covenant. It has not changed its domestic law to conform with the strictures of the Covenant. See Hain v. Gibson, 287 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 2002) (noting that Congress has not done so). Its subjects are not permitted to sue to enforce their basic human rights under the Covenant, as noted above. It has not ratified the Optional Protocol. As such, the Covenant has been rendered ineffective, with the bone of contention being United States officials’ insistence upon preserving a vast web of sovereign, judicial, prosecutorial, and executive branch immunities that often deprives its subjects of the “effective remedy” under law the Covenant is intended to guarantee…