International human rights

Internationally, human rights are guaranteed through treaties, customary international law and other sources of international law.

New Zealand is party to 7 core international human rights treaties of the United Nations. By signing up to these instruments, New Zealand has assumed obligations under international law to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of everyone in New Zealand. This means that the State must refrain from actions that interfere with or curtail the enjoyment of human rights, protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses and take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

New Zealand has also undertaken to put into place domestic measures and legislation compatible with its obligations under the treaties, and has agreed to submit periodic reports on the measures taken to give effect to its treaty obligations. Where domestic legal proceedings fail to address unjustified limitations on human rights, mechanisms and procedures for individual complaints are available at the international level to help ensure that international standards are indeed respected, implemented, and enforced.

Find out more about international human rights law and declarations

This page was last updated: