The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is observed on June 26th to commemorate the day in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. This convention is a crucial instrument in the global fight against torture. The prohibition of torture is considered a part of customary international law, which means that it is legally binding on all countries, regardless of whether they have ratified specific treaties that explicitly prohibit torture. The official website highlights that the systematic or widespread practice of torture is recognized as a crime against humanity.
History of United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
The Torture Agreement, officially known as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect on June 26, 1987. This marked an important milestone in recognizing the universal prohibition of torture. A decade later, on June 26, 1997, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated this date as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The purpose of this day is to support survivors of torture and raise awareness about the devastating effects it has on individuals.
The main objective of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is to work towards the complete eradication of this inhumane practice in all its forms. On June 26, 1998, the United Nations called upon governments, stakeholders, and members of the global community to take decisive action against perpetrators of torture worldwide.
What is Torture?
Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.
On 12 December 1997, by resolution 52/149, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
26 June is an opportunity to call on all stakeholders including UN Member States, civil society, and individuals everywhere to unite in support of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.