The Research Networking Programme ‘Beyond Territoriality: Globalization and Transnational Human Rights Obligations’ (GLOTHRO) started in May 2010 and concluded its publication phase in September 2015. During this period GLOTHRO became the single most important point of reference for all those working on human rights questions in which a multiplicity and variety of State and non-State actors are involved. GLOTHRO organized two major conferences, ten workshops and a doctoral school, and provided six exchange grants to young scholars. It has produced agenda setting publications with leading publishers.

The overall substantive goal of the RNP was to examine the legal implications of the expansion of the realm of human rights duty-bearers beyond the state, by integrating the direct human rights obligations of non-state actors, in particular international (financial) organizations and transnational corporations into the overall human rights obligations framework. In order to reach this goal the RNP had three main objectives:

  1. to deepen the understanding of human rights obligations of foreign States (extraterritorial human rights obligations);
  2. to widen the understanding of human rights responsibilities bring together the separate fields of study respectively on the human rights obligations of transnational corporations, international organisations and non-territorial states so as to identify common principles determining the human rights obligations of the respective actors (transnational human rights obligations);
  3. to facilitate the establishment of a European interdisciplinary research community with a global dimension

The work on extraterritorial human rights obligations under objective one culminated in the adoption by 40 experts of the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in September 2011, and in the publication of a seminal edited volume by Cambridge University Press (Global Justice, State Duties: The Extraterritorial Scope of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in International Law). The Maastricht Principles are international legal principles which clarify the human rights obligations of States beyond their own borders. United Nations and regional human rights bodies and experts, human rights organizations, and scholars working in the field of extraterritorial obligations increasingly use these principles as a reference point.

Impressive progress was made in conceptualising duties of non-State actors (objective 2), notwithstanding hesitation and at times even reluctance to rethink human rights law by incorporating direct obligations of non-state actors. In order to overcome hesitation within more traditional human rights legal scholarship, the RNP stepped up its efforts rather dramatically. The number of workshops was more than doubled and five trajectories were initiated to gather insights in global governance and global justice in political and moral philosophy, political science/globalization studies and public international law and to feed them into human rights law,.

The RNP has been very succesful in building a European interdisciplinary research community of junior and senior scholars (objective three). This research community goes far beyond Europe to include scholars from the USA, Australia, India, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. GLOTHRO developed structural collaboration and established networks with key actors and research institutes. It also engaged with a host of policy actors at the national and international level, including several of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs. GLOTHRO worked equally close with civil society actors, in particular the ETO (Extra-Territorial Obligations) Consortium, a network of some 80 human rights related civil society organizations and academics.