France is a Member State of the Council of Europe (COE) and of the United Nations (UN), and has human rights obligations at the regional and universal levels.
Regional: European System
As a Member of the COE, France has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. France has ratified the Revised European Social Charter, and has authorized the European Committee of Social Rights to decide collective complaints against it. France’s human rights policies and practices are also monitored by the COE Commissioner for Human Rights, who identifies gaps in human rights protection, conducts country visits, engages in dialogue with States, and prepares thematic reports and advice.
Individuals and groups have submitted complaints of human rights violations committed by France to the European Court of Human Rights. For example, the Court held France responsible for violating an individuals’ right not to be tortured and his right to a hearing within a reasonable time when he was subjected to physical and mental violence while in police custody. See ECtHR, Selmouni v. France, no. 25803/94, ECHR 2009, Judgment of 28 July 1999. Additionally, the Court may grant interim measures to protect people in urgent situations of risk in France.
As a State party to the Revised European Social Charter, France must submit regular reports to the European Committee of Social Rights on its implementation of the Charter’s provisions. The Committee has also decided collective complaints against France. For example, the Committee found France in violation of the Revised Charter based on the insufficient number and poor conditions of stopping places for Travellers, their lack of access to housing, and related eviction procedure and penalties. See ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. France, Complaint No. 51/2008, Merits, 19 October 2009.
France is a party to the following regional human rights treaties:
- European Convention on Human Rights and several of its protocols
- Revised European Social Charter
- COE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- COE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
United Nations System
As a UN Member State, France is subject to the oversight of various UN human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review and thematic special procedures. As a party to specific universal human rights treaties, France’s policies and practices are monitored by UN treaty bodies. It has accepted the complaints procedure of seven treaty bodies.
France has ratified the following UN human rights treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
- Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
France has also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at abolishing the death penalty, and optional protocols to the CRC addressing children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. France has a duty to submit State reports to the UN treaty body associated with each UN human rights treaty France has ratified. These reports must be submitted on a periodic basis and describe the steps France has taken to implement the treaty provisions.
France has also ratified optional protocols and made appropriate declarations allowing individuals to submit complaints against the State alleging violations of the ICCPR, CRC, CAT, CED, CEDAW, CRPD, and CERD. Additionally, certain UN treaties contain inquiry procedures, which allow the UN treaty body to consider allegations of grave or systematic human rights violations. France has accepted the inquiry procedures of the CAT, CED, CEDAW, CRPD, and CRC.
In March 2001, France extended a standing invitation to UN special procedures, which means that any such mandate holders are welcome to conduct visits in France. For example, the independent expert on minority issues went on a mission to France in September 2007 and published a report in March 2008.
For more information on France’s engagement with UN human rights bodies, visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/FRIndex.aspx.
Last updated: January 2020