China on Monday is expected to sign a key human rights treaty that calls for freedom of expression, religion and self-determination, U.N. officials said Friday.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is one of two accords seen as fundamental to protecting human rights. China has signed the other one - the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - but hasn't ratified it.China, whose human rights record has been widely criticized, told top U.N. human rights officer Mary Robinson last month that it planned to sign the political rights treaty before No-vem-ber.

The treaty was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1966 and went into force a decade later. Since then, 140 countries have ratified it or acceded to it.

The treaty states that all people have the right of self-determination. It prohibits torture, cruel or degrading punishment and provides for freedom of movement, thought, religion and expression, among other things.

States that have signed on to the treaty are required to submit an initial report within one year of ratification and periodic reports every five years thereafter.