International human rights legislation

Human rights were first expressed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in several international treaties since then. Countries who sign up to these treaties are obliged to include the rights in their own domestic laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out the basic human rights that should be protected for everyone. New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Peter Fraser, played a key role in drafting the Declaration along with representatives from around the world.

You can read the full text of the Declaration on the United Nations website.

International Bill of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, together make up the International Bill of Human Rights.

Both of the Covenants came into force in 1976. They set out everyday rights such as the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of expression, and the rights to work and education.

You can find out more about the International Bill of Rights on the United Nations website.

New Zealand's International Obligations

There are a number of International treaties that have been ratified by the government and incorporated in international law, and the Commission’s work including New Zealand's second Universal Periodic Review on human rights.

View the full list of treaties and learn how to make submissions to the UN here.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. New Zealand, led by then Prime Minister Peter Fraser, played a key role in the drafting of the Declaration.

Learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights here.