Legal framework

The basis of the functioning of the FIRM is to be found in the international treaties and declarations for the protection of human rights. In what follows, we list some of the most important international texts.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

This declaration was the first (almost) universally accepted text at the level of the United Nations. Not coincidentally, it was the answer to the horror and violence of the Second World War. A quick google search not only takes you to the text itself but also to explanations, commentaries and videos.
This basic text is further elaborated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(undefined) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both from 1966.

Consult the UDHR 1948 on the UN website(undefined)

Consult the International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights 1966 on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights)(undefined)

Consult the International covenant on civil and political rights 1966 on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights)(undefined)

The European Convention on Human Rights 1950

More than a declaration, this Convention is hard and enforceable law. The ECHR and the ECtHR or European Court of Human Rights were established within the Council of Europe. They have given rise to important judgements and changes in the law. By way of example here in Belgium, we can mention the Marckx judgment, which has brought about a fundamental change in the law of descent and inheritance, but which has also given solid substance to the right to privacy and family life. Here, too, there is a great deal of information available on the internet, but you should first of all visit the websites of the Council of Europe(undefined) and that of the European Court of Human Rights(undefined) in particular.

Consult the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 on the site of the European Court of Human Rights(undefined)

The European Social Charter 1961

The European Social Charter (ESC)(undefined) is a human rights treaty concluded within the Council of Europe in 1961, and revised in 1996. It establishes social and economic rights and freedoms that must be respected by the states that have ratified it (employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare). It is the counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with civil and political rights.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 2012

This text of European constitutional rights was adopted in Nice in 2000 and subsequently incorporated into primary European law by the Treaty of Lisbon. It has since become an important and enforceable act that is regularly and systematically used by the Court of Justice of the European Union(undefined). These rulings can have important consequences. Consider, for example, the SCHREMS II(.pdf-undefined) ruling that undermined the EU-US data transfer agreement and caused FACEBOOK to consider withdrawing from Europe.

Consult the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 2012 on the site EUR-Lex(undefined)

The Belgian constitution: civil rights and liberties 1831

"The Belgians and their rights": Title II of the Belgian Constitution of 1831 was at the time a shining example of liberal fundamental rights that we now mostly call "human rights". But this constitutional act has also been updated and supplemented over the years. The history of that title is also, to some extent, the history of thinking about fundamental rights and their translation into hard, enforceable law.


Law grows and is the work of humans: human rights, constitutionally guaranteed rights, did not just appear in the United Nations in 1948, but were the result of political and social struggles and evolutions. Individual examples of the long and rich history in which human rights have been increasingly concretized and elaborated include the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, and the Bill of Rights, but also the Joyous Entry and the Pacification of Ghent, the American Declaration of Independence, and the D├ęclaration des droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen of 1789.

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