Torture Convention

United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


Professor Bassiouni and the late Niall McDermot were the Co-Chairs of the Committee of Experts who prepped the First Draft of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Below is a link to the Draft of the Convention, prepared by Professor Bassiouni in 1977, in his capacity as Secretary General of L’Association Internationale de Droit Penal. The Draft was submitted to the UN Economic and Social Council early the next year. The Draft is is very similar to the text prepared by the AIDP and International Commission of Jurists (for which McDermot was then Secretary General)

mini-acrobat Draft Convention

mini-acrobat Final Convention (A/RES/39/46)

The United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) was adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and entered into force on 26 June 1987. In honour of the CAT, 26 June is now recognised as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. As of May 2013, the Convention has 153 state parties.

The Institutionalisation of Torture by the Bush Administration: Is Anyone Responsible?

“President Obama apparently has stopped the torture of the Bush administration, but he has refused to investigate or prosecute those who ordered and authorised this official criminality. Cherif Bassiouni’s superb presentation of these criminal policies and his critique of the impunity and rationalizations behind them should spur the Obama administration not only to abide by the law but also to apply it. Only by thus reestablishing the rule of law can he ensure that future administration treat torture not as a viable policy option but as an inexcusable crime.”
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

“Cherif Bassiouni, as the pre-eminent scholar in the field of international criminal law, speaks to us with unquestioned mastery of the complex legal issues involved in the Bush administration’s torture practices. But his work is also imbued with personal outrage and compelling moral authority. This is legal scholarship at its best, explaining the world in order to change it. Instantly, this book becomes the authoritative work in this field.”
Prof. William Schabas, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway