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Universal Human Rights in Practice:
States' Extraterritorial Obligations Related to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The universality of human rights is a foundation for international human rights law developed since the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. This implies that both the content of rights and their corresponding obligations are universal for states in their international relations. The increased international interaction in times of globalisation has made the universality of economic, social and cultural human rights more important than ever. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights specifically states that the rights in the Covenant shall be guaranteed through steps taken individually by the ratifying state as well as through ‘international assistance and cooperation’. This is recognition that states and other public and private actors affect the enjoyment of human rights not only within their own state’s territory, but also globally. Thus, acts or omissions of states affect people outside their borders as well as within, and states face challenges as to how to meet their extraterritorial human rights obligations, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
Many challenges in the field of global economic, social and cultural rights need bi- and multilateral solutions, such as how to guarantee these rights in states that lack resources to do so on their own; how to regulate TNCs or other foreign actors so that local populations’ access to resources (land, markets, etc.) be respected, protected and fulfilled; and how to regulate global capital markets to actively promote economic, social and cultural rights for local populations.
The current project bring together researchers from academia, non-governmental organisations and practitioners to address the universality of obligations related to economic, social and cultural rights. This will be done through empirical studies analysing how actions and omissions by states have already impacted upon the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in other states. This empirical research will be used to further the theoretical understanding of the implications of extraterritorial obligations, and thereby contribute to the practical implementation and protection of human rights through ‘international assistance and cooperation.’
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