The Fiduciary Constitution of Human Rights

36 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010 Last revised: 20 Apr 2017

See all articles by Evan Fox-Decent

Evan Fox-Decent

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Evan J. Criddle

William & Mary Law School

Date Written: February 12, 2010


The authors argue that human rights are best conceived as norms arising from a fiduciary relationship that exists between states (or state-like actors) and the citizens and noncitizens subject to their power. These norms draw on a Kantian conception of moral personhood, protecting agents from instrumentalization and domination. They do not, however, exist in the abstract as timeless natural rights. Instead, they are correlates of the state’s fiduciary duty to provide equal security under the rule of law, a duty that flows from the state’s institutional assumption of irresistible sovereign powers.

Keywords: human rights, sovereignty, Kant, fiduciary

Suggested Citation

Fox-Decent, Evan and Criddle, Evan J., The Fiduciary Constitution of Human Rights (February 12, 2010). Legal Theory, Vol. 15(4), p. 301 (2010) , Available at SSRN:

Evan Fox-Decent

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec


Evan J. Criddle (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

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