A treaty is a formally signed and validated agreement between states that lays out specific rules on how the state will conduct its affairs on a particular issue. Treaties are signed and agreed upon by individual states on an ad hoc basis.

It should be noted that the Cayman Islands may or may not be party to the international treaties discussed in this section. Additionally, the Cayman Islands are not necessarily automatically party to treaties signed on to by the United Kingdom due to its status as a British Overseas Territory.

United Nations Treaty Bodies

Treaty bodies are committees of independent experts who monitor the implementation of United Nations (UN) human rights treaties across the signatories. They consider state reports on progress made to realise human rights under the treaty they monitor and issue authoritative interpretations (usually called General Comments or General Recommendations) on the status of states’ obligations under the treaty. Most treaty bodies can also review and make recommendations on complaints from individuals and groups where they feel that their rights under the treaty have been violated and they have been denied a remedy at the national level.

There are eight treaty bodies; each has responsibility in relation to one of the core UN human rights treaties. They are:
  1. Human Rights Committee: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocols
  2. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol
  3. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: International Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
  4. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol
  5. Committee Against Torture: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and its Optional Protocol
  6. Committee on the Rights of the Child: Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols
  7. Committee on Migrant Workers: International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
  8. Committee on the Right of Persons with Disabilities: International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol

Timeline of Major International Human Rights Treaties

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Declaration)

The Universal Declaration was the first detailed expression of the basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled.

1948 Genocide Convention

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the UN in an effort to prevent atrocities, such as the Holocaust, from happening again. The Convention defines the crime of genocide.

1951 Refugee Convention

The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees protects the rights of people who are forced to flee their home country for fear of persecution on specific grounds.

1960 Discrimination in Employment Convention

The International Labour Organisation Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111) prohibits discrimination at work on many grounds, including race, sex, religion, political opinion and social origin.

1966 Racial Discrimination Convention

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination  (ICERD) obliges states to take steps to prohibit racial discrimination and promote understanding among all races.

1966 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Covenant

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) protects rights like the right to an adequate standard of living, education, work, healthcare, and social security. The ICESCR and the ICCPR (below) build on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by creating binding obligations for state parties.

1966 Civil and Political Rights Covenant

Human rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) include the right to vote, the right to freedom of association, the right to a fair trial, right to privacy, and the right to freedom of religion. The First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR creates a mechanism for individuals to make complaints about breaches of their rights. The Second Optional Protocol concerns abolition of the death penalty.

1979 Discrimination against Women Convention

Under the Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), states must take steps to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure that women enjoy human rights to the same degree as men in a range of areas, including education, employment, healthcare and family life. The Optional Protocol establishes a mechanism for making complaints.

1984 Convention against Torture

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or other Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT) aims to prevent torture around the world. It requires states to take steps to eliminate torture in within their borders. And it prohibits states from sending a person to another country where he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

The  Optional Protocol creates a system for regular inspection of places of detention.

1989 Children’s Convention

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that children are entitled to the same human rights as all other people. It also creates special rights for children, recognising their particular vulnerability, such as the right to express their views freely, and that decisions affecting children must consider the best interests of the child.

There are two Optional Protocols, one on  child prostitution and pornography and another on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

1989 Indigenous Peoples Convention

The International Labour Organisation’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (No. 169) aims to protect the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples around the world. It is based on respect for the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain their own identities and to decide their own path for development in all areas including land rights, customary law, health and employment.

1990 Convention on Migrant Workers

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families aims to ensure that migrant workers enjoy full protection of their human rights, regardless of their legal status.

2006 Convention on Persons with Disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disability. It includes the right to health, education, employment, accessibility, and non-discrimination. The Optional Protocol establishes an individual complaints mechanism.

2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

This Declaration establishes minimum standards for the enjoyment of individual and collective rights by Indigenous peoples. These include the right to effectively participate in decision-making on matters which affect them, and the right to pursue their own priorities for economic, social and cultural development.

Main International Human Rights Instruments Extended to the Cayman Islands

Main UN International Human Rights Conventions and Protocols
  • ICERD – International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • ICCPR – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • ICESCR – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • CAT – Convention against Torture
  • CRC – Convention on the Rights of the Child
Other UN Human Rights and Related Conventions
Conventions of the ILO
  • C087 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
  • C098 – Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
Conventions of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law
Geneva Conventions and other treaties on international humanitarian law
Regional human rights instruments
Legal framework for the protection of human rights at the national level
  • Part I ("Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities") of Schedule 2 of (The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 protects human rights at statutory level.)