The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, 2020 marked the moment in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, one of the key instruments in fighting torture, came into effect. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 1984. Its implementation by States parties is monitored by a body of independent experts, the Committee against Torture. As of now, the Convention has been ratified by 162 countries.
In light of the Convention Article 1, paragraph 1, "the term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."
In 1948, the international community condemned torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. In 1975, responding to vigorous activity by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
During the 1980s and 1990s, progress was made both in the development of legal standards and instruments and in enforcement of the prohibition of torture. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was established by the General Assembly in 1981 to fund organisations providing assistance to victims of torture and their families.
Compiled by Law Desk (UN.ORG)