Superheroes’ Regulation: Human Rights Responsibilities As a Source of Transnational Authority

52 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018

See all articles by Tomer Shadmy

Tomer Shadmy

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2018


Over the last decades, various human rights instruments have been established in order to bridge the transnational accountability gap and impose human rights obligations on non-state actors and on extraterritorial relations. The article argues that these instruments have the potential to equip already powerful entities such as multinational corporations with an additional mode of power—political authority. A philosophical examination of different types of legal obligations and their impacts on power relations constitutes the ground for an in-depth inquiry into the jurisprudential features of the new human rights norms. Many of these norms conceptualize human rights obligations as responsibilities. According to the current literature, the extensive use of the term “responsibility” in these instruments indicates the voluntary character of the new norms. This article provides an alternative interpretation. It identifies the emergence of a new jurisprudential structure. This structure shapes transnational human rights obligations as a unique form of future-oriented rule-responsibilities. The article reveals that this legal articulation of human rights, while containing some progressive elements, may encourage a rise of new forms of non-democratic authority. As the article demonstrates, human rights responsibilities serve in the global arena not just as a burden, but indeed also as a new form of power, thus inverting Spiderman’s famous slogan: "with great power must also come great responsibility." As it turns out, in our world, with great responsibility actually comes great power.

Keywords: human rights obligations, responsibility to protect, business and human rights, corporate social responsibility

Suggested Citation

Shadmy, Tomer, Superheroes’ Regulation: Human Rights Responsibilities As a Source of Transnational Authority (August 25, 2018). North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Tomer Shadmy (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv, 69978

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