UN CONVENTION AGAINST
TORTURE - EXPLAINER
The UNCAT Explainer summarises the main basic obligations of UNCAT. It may be used by non-State-parties
in preparing Cabinet submissions or other documentation necessary for taking the decision to ratify or accede
to UNCAT. It can be read in conjunction with CTI’s Ratification Tool. For States party to the Convention, this
document may be used to support plans for implementing the Convention and identifying areas where reforms or
changes may be needed.

DEFINITION OF TORTURE
The definition in Article 1.1 of UNCAT contains 4 elements for an act to constitute “torture”:
•	 Severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental;
•	 Intentionally inflicted;
•	 For a particular purpose (for example, obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or
coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind);
•	 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
The term “torture” does not include any pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful
sanctions.
This UNCAT definition of torture is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation
which does or may contain provisions of wider application (Article 1.2).

prevention
cooperation
redress
on extradition
review of
procedures

UNCAT

training

reporting

punishment
prohibition

The UN Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (UNCAT) is the key
global treaty guiding States on
how to effectively prohibit and
prevent such practices, as well as
investigate, prosecute and punish
perpetrators, and provide redress
for victims. UNCAT was adopted
10 December 1984 and entered
into force on 26 June 1987.

The Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) was
launched in March 2014 by the Governments of Chile,
Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco. Its aim is to
secure the universal ratification and implementation
of the UN Convention against Torture by 2024 through
constructive engagement and sharing experiences
between States. For more information on the CTI,
including how to join the CTI Group of Friends, visit
www.cti2024.org

UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE IN BRIEF
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Convention against
Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
and
Optional Protocol to
the Convention against
Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment

Select target paragraph3