Campaign for the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture
The IRCT continues to campaign for the universal ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT).
Why is the Convention so important?
Ratification of the Convention obligates governments to assert responsibility for the prevention of torture and the redress for victims of torture. While the global fight requires the active support of all people, the government of a given territory is ultimately responsible for any torture that occurs within its boundaries. Individual governments, therefore, must take it upon themselves to take part in the struggle against torture. Ratification of the Convention is often a necessary first step in this process.
For this reason, the IRCT places a great emphasis on collective action aimed at the universal ratification of the Convention. Persons who reside in countries that have not ratified it have a very important role in lobbying within their own society. Persons who live in countries that have already ratified the Convention may also contribute to the cause through education and awareness raising activities promoting the cause of universal ratification of the Convention.
Write to your government
You can get involved in this campaign by encouraging your government to ratify the Convention and recognise the competence of the Committee against Torture. You can write to your government calling for the ratification of the Convention without reservations. If your country has already ratified the Convention but not declared the Committee competent to receive individual communications from victims of torture, you should urge your government to consider doing so now.
It is good to emphasise the fact that ratification of the Convention is an important step towards the effective prevention of torture at the national level. Ratification sends a very positive signal to the rest of the international community that a country is committed to taking action against torture.
Get a sample of how a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of your country could look like.
Contact the media
Write a letter to the editor of your local or national newspaper to express your concern that your government has not ratified the Convention or does not accept the competence of the Committee. Voice your support for the implementation of the Convention in national legislation, if your country has not yet done so. Encourage your government to support training and education programmes for police and prison officers and initiatives aimed at addressing the needs of victims of torture and their families.
Joint NGO activities
Consider joining forces with other national NGOs. Many organizations, such as Amnesty International, OMCT and FIACAT have their own networks of affiliated organizations that lobby against torture. Link up with like-minded organisations to maximise the impact of your lobbying efforts.
Create public debate
Consider creating a discussion forum with participation of national NGOs and other civil society groups (e.g. bar associations, universities, religious organisations), with a view to creating a groundswell of support for the ratification and ongoing implementation of the Convention.
Make sure that your organisation is familiar with the principles in the Convention and that you have relevant materials in your own language for dissemination to the media and to the public. This knowledge will also assist you in your contact with politicians and with the administration. If your organisation has a website, you may also want to promote the campaign via the Internet. A good starting point is a fact sheet explaining the basic principles of the Convention.