FOUNDATION: Unit V. International Human Rights in the Domestic US Context 2 of 7


US Senate in session

International human rights treaties do more than set world standards for sovereign states in the treatment of their citizens: these treaties create obligations for the individual states that ratify them. For example, in the United Kingdom, all treaties have to be followed by national implementing legislation.

The hope is that when a country such as the United States becomes party to a human rights treaty, it not only promises the other participating countries that it will abide by the treaty, it also promises its own people to make the protections in the treaty part of US law. This will allow individuals to use these laws as the basis for lawsuits if they feel their rights under the treaty have been violated, unless reservations block this option.

Countries go through several steps to become party to a treaty and then to incorporate the treaty’s provisions into their domestic law.

Does becoming party to a treaty change the US Constitution?
UN International Human Rights Treaties:
Basic International Rules