Tides of Change – Expanding the Term ‘Duty-Bearer’ in International Human Rights

19 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2015

Date Written: July 29, 2015


The past decade has seen remarkable evolution in the field of international law in relation to the protection of human rights, though much of the law reflecting this evolution is either soft law or only binding at the domestic level. Businesses formerly insulated by the cover of private law are receiving greater attention for their role in human rights abuses, a field generally defined and defended by public law. Almost in parallel, the role of states in protecting human rights outside their borders has also shifted. Gone are the days when states simply looked the other way as the populations of another state suffered due to the neglect or offenses of their government. A collective conscience has evolved – a conscience that no longer tolerates human deprivation and suffering at the hands of actors that were formerly ‘off-limits’ for the purposes of global human rights scrutiny. This paper examines the expanding recognition of business as a human rights duty-bearer and how this expansion reflects the transitioning role of states through the 'responsibility to protect' concept. The key to both developments lies in the need for states to focus on prevention by carrying out effective due diligence.

Keywords: Human Rights, Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, Due Diligence; Duty-bearer, Responsibility to Protect

Suggested Citation

McCall-Smith, Kasey L., Tides of Change – Expanding the Term ‘Duty-Bearer’ in International Human Rights (July 29, 2015). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2015/23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2637318 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2637318

Kasey L. McCall-Smith (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/people/kaseymccallsmith

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