UN Conventions – India
The major UN conventions (listed below) each have provisions relevant to education, non-discrimination or access to justice, and they can all be signed up to by states, thereby obliging these to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. It matters whether states have ratified or acceded (almost the same) to a particular convention, signed it, or merely indicated their intention to do so, as they will accordingly be legally bound by that treaty to differing degrees. Furthermore, it is very important to note whether or not states have lodged any reservations or declarations, which might prevent the convention in question entering into full effect at the national level. Lastly, some conventions, either in their core text or in optional protocols, specify routes of individual complaints to the different committees of independent experts, and it must be noted whether these exist before contemplating legal action at this level.
The United Nations system, begun in 1945 with the UN Charter, depends on the participation by states, as signatories to treaties, as authors of reports on the progress and rate of implementation of rights, and as parties to face-to-face meetings and recommendations. The UN works both as a peer system (via the Universal Periodic Review), where states judge and place pressure on each other - or avoid doing so for political reasons – as well as a system of independent experts (via the committees of the various conventions), who examine, interpret and commend or criticise the efforts of countries to fulfil their obligations against the background of the normative texts and the internationally binding law.
The international legal system has the state at its centre: the state ratifies treaties and thereby obliges itself to respect, protect and fulfil certain human rights. The one which is of central importance to these pages is the right to education. And it is the state that must report on its own implementation and who can be “named and shamed” in public for not doing so. Treaties specify mechanisms for how the international community can hold the state to account, frequently through exerting pressure from above, and therefore such mechanisms can be very powerful. However they can also become overtly politicised at the UN or regional fora. It is the challenge of campaigners and the courts to place this power in the hands of those whose rights have been violated by the state.
- International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights - ICESCR
Acceded: 10 April 1979.
Reservations and Declarations: Articles 1, 4, 7(c) and 8; three states filed objections to all or some aspects of these reservations.
(…) With reference to articles 4 and 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Government of the Republic of India declares that the provisions of the said [article] shall be so applied as to be in conformity with the provisions of article 19 of the Constitution of India.(…)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - ICCPR
Acceded: 10 April 1979.
No reservation related to the right to education.
- International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination - CERD
Ratified: 3 December 1968.
Reservations and Declarations: Article 22; one state filed an objection to this reservation.
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination - CEDAW
Ratified: 9 July 1993.
Reservations and Declarations: Articles 5(a), 16(1), 16(2) and 29(1); one state filed an objection to some aspects of the reservations.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child - CRC
Acceded: 11 December 1992.
Reservations and Declarations: Article 32
"While fully subscribing to the objectives and purposes of the Convention, realising that certain of the rights of child, namely those pertaining to the economic, social and cultural rights can only be progressively implemented in the developing countries, subject to the extent of available resources and within the framework of international co-operation; recognising that the child has to be protected from exploitation of all forms including economic exploitation; noting that for several reasons children of different ages do work in India; having prescribed minimum ages for employment in hazardous occupations and in certain other areas; having made regulatory provisions regarding hours and conditions of employment; and being aware that it is not practical immediately to prescribe minimum ages for admission to each and every area of employment in India - the Government of India undertakes to take measures to progressively implement the provisions of article 32, particularly paragraph 2 (a), in accordance with its national legislation and relevant international instruments to which it is a State Party."
- International Convention on the protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Their Families - CMV
- International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – CRPD
Ratified: 1 October 2007