Human rights violations occur daily, all over the world. Sovereign States legally bear the primary responsibility for human rights violations. But what happens when these States are not able to live up to their human rights obligations? Do other States have extraterritorial obligations to help them out? Which role should other actors (companies, international organisations) play? This Programme starts from the assumption that human rights obligations, in particular also in the field of economic, social and cultural rights, need to be re-thought in the present era of globalisation.
The displacement of the state and the increased power and impact of corporations and international organisations, pose major practical and conceptual challenges to human rights law. In practice, human rights law faces a serious risk of marginalisation if it fails to adapt to this changing reality. Conceptually, the decentralisation of the territorial state necessitates a fundamental re-thinking of a basic tenet of human rights law, i.e. that human rights obligations are primarily if not exclusively incumbent on the territorial state.
The proposed Programme intends to address a dual challenge, i.e. to deepen the understanding of human rights obligations of foreign states, and to bring together sub-fields of human rights study, i.e. on the human rights obligations of transnational corporations, international organisations and foreign states.