Main content area

State obligation in international human rights law

The long list of international treaties, including the human rights treaties, to which Australia has committed itself, can be seen in the table of Major human rights treaties. But what does it mean for a state to ratify or to accede to an international human rights treaty?

There are two aspects to this question – the first depends on the constitution of the state, that is, whether the treaty obligation becomes domestic law upon ratification (monist) or if a domestic law must first be passed (dualist). In Australia, domestic laws must be passed to incorporate treaty obligations into our law. See Effect of treaties in Australia.

The second aspect goes to what it means, as a state, to be subject to a human rights obligation. States undertake to protect, respect, promote, and fulfil the human rights that are the subject of the treaty.