Key Terms Explained

The following table provides a brief explanation of how we have defined key terms in the database. 

Key Term

Brief Explanation

Access to Information

The term "access to information" is tagged in provisions that deal freedom of information, education and training, and in situations where the government has to ensure that individuals or communities can access, understand and interpret information.  Both passive and active access to information are tagged here, including all references to freedom of information, access to information, or understanding or interpretation of information.  

Access to Justice/Effective Remedy

The term "access to justice/effective remedy" is tagged when instruments address remedies for individuals or communities who are harmed or affected in some way. Access to justice/effective remedy could be anything from an administrative process to judicial remedies. In situations where the instrument creates a specific body to receive complaints, the main provisions are tagged.  The right to juridical personality is also tagged under this key term.

Right to Participation

The term "right to participate" is tagged in provisions that deal with consultation requirements and participation/inclusion in decision-making that affect individuals and/or groups of people, either through direct involvement or the election of representatives. 

Freedom of Assembly

The term "freedom of assembly" is tagged in articles that deal with the freedom to gather, communicate, protest, and meet.

Freedom of Expression

The term "Freedom of Expression" is tagged in provisions  relating to the ability to state an opinion, either verbally or non-verbally. 

Right to a Fair Trial

The term "right to a fair trial" is tagged in provisions dealing with procedural fairness of civil and criminal matters, especially with regards to someone that has been accused, arrested, or detained. It is also tagged under the key term "Access to Justice/Effective Remedy."

Free, Prior, and Informed Consent

The term "free, prior, and informed consent" is tagged when there are implicit and explicit references to free, prior, and informed consent; when rights to effective participation and access to information specifically relate to communities who are impacted by certain the decisions, policies and initiatives; when there are references to culturally appropriate decision making and freedom from coercion; and as the manifestation of Indigenous Peoples' right to self-determination. This key term is tagged by an orange circle denoting that it is evolving law.

Indigenous Peoples' Rights

The term "Indigenous Peoples' rights" is tagged when there are explicit references to indigenous peoples, customary or traditional use and expression, or free, prior, and informed consent. For instruments that deal specifically with indigenous peoples, all substantive provisions of the instrument are tagged.  It is not always tagged with the key term "marginalized or discriminated against groups."

Right to Self-Determination

The term "right to self-determination" is tagged for provisions related to a collective peoples' ability to exert control over their land and livelihood and for provisions relating to autonomy and sovereignty with regards to political status and social, cultural and economic development.  

Non-Discrimination OR Equality

Non-discrimination and equality are closely linked, so they are combined for the purposes of this database. Both terms are tagged with respect to any provisions that either address discrimination issues or state that particular rights or privileges must apply equally to all. 

Women's Rights/Gender

Any explicit references to women, equality between men and women, or gender are covered by the key term "women's rights/gender term."  It is not always tagged with the key term "marginalized or discriminated against groups." 

Right to Culture/Cultural Integrity

The term "right to culture/cultural integrity" is tagged when there are references to culture, customs, traditional knowledge and traditional use of land, customary practices, and spiritual practices.

Right to Food

The term "right to food" is tagged for provisions that address access to food and nutrition. It is also tagged in certain circumstances referencing subsistence and human survival.  

Right to Water and Sanitation

The term "right to water and sanitation" is tagged for provisions that deal with providing access to potable water, water used for drinking and/or domestic purposes, as well as references to sanitation.  

Rights to Lands, Territories and Properties

The term "rights to lands, territories and property" is tagged whenever provisions deal with dominion or title over lands, territories or property. This right may be referenced either as an individual or collective right. 

Rights to Natural Resources

The term "rights to natural resources" is tagged when provisions deal with natural wealth and resources. This reference could be a generic mention of resources or specific references to bodies of water, flora, or other resources. 

Right to Life

The term "right to life" is tagged in specific provision that deal with the sanctity of human life. 

Freedom from Torture/Violence

The term "freedom from torture/violence" is tagged when there are explicit references to torture and violence. It is also tagged in provisions that address freedom from coercion, punishment, degrading treatment and oppression. References that deal with the security of person are also tagged. 

Right to Religion

The term "right to religion" is tagged when there is an explicit reference to religion or a discussion of spiritual practices. It is also tagged with regards to access to sacred sites, which is not necessarily just in reference to culture. 

Rights of the Child

The term "rights of the child" are tagged with regards to any references drawing particular attention to children, the well-being of children, or children's rights. The term is also tagged when a provision pays particular attention to women and children. 

Right to Health

The term "right to health" is tagged for standard references to human well-being or having a healthy life, and is also tagged in provisions that deal with safety or hazardous materials when the context implicates their effect on human health. 

Human Rights

The term "human rights" is tagged specifically when the phrase "human rights" appears in an instrument. It is also tagged when there is general reference to respecting the rights of individuals and specific groups. 

Displacement/Involuntary Resettlement

The term "displacement/involuntary resettlement" is tagged in provisions where text implies some level of forced displacement or resettlement, such as confiscation, alternative uses, eminent domain and forced eviction. 

Labour Rights

The term "labour rights" is tagged in provisions that deal with employment issues, working conditions, health and safety in the work place, and in provisions referencing forced labor or slavery/slavery-like practices. 

Biodiversity Protection

The term "biodiversity protection" covers references to flora, fauna, wildlife and biodiversity in the context of conserving them or providing for their protection.  Explicit references to genetic resources are tagged as well.

Right to Housing

The term "right to housing" is tagged when provisions include particular references to housing, shelter, and adequate housing. It may also be tagged in provisions clearly referencing forced evictions and standard of living.

Right to a Healthy Environment

The term "right to a healthy environment" is tagged in provisions referencing a safe environment or a state's obligation to provide a healthy environment. It is also tagged in provisions where there is a clear link between environment, health and well-being. 

Rights of Marginalized or Discriminated Against Groups

The term "rights of marginalized or discriminated against groups" is tagged whenever there are references to groups that typically face discrimination.  Examples include discrimination based on race, age, disability and economic status. Reference to tribal populations are tagged as well.  Note that when Indigenous Peoples, women, and children are explicitly mentioned in an article, the article is tagged accordingly, rather than by this more general tag.

Sustainable Development

The term "sustainable development" is tagged when provisions explicitly deal with development occurring in a sustainable manner. It is also tagged in provisions that integrate economic development with social and environmental concerns as well as intra- and intergenerational equity.  Note that this term may be tagged when either the specific term or alternative formulations are used. 

Freedom of Association

The term "freedom of association" is tagged when provisions deal with the right to join or leave a group of one's own choosing. It is also tagged when there are references to that group's ability to take collective action to achieve the pursuits of its members. When the choice to associate with a specific group relates to identity, this term is also tagged.