The Anonymous Matrix: Human Rights Violations by 'Private' Transnational Actors

Modern Law Review, Vol. 69, pp. 327-346, 2006

20 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2006 Last revised: 8 Sep 2009

See all articles by Gunther Teubner

Gunther Teubner

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität


Do fundamental rights obligate not only States, but also private transnational actors? Since violations of fundamental rights stem from the totalising tendencies of partial rationalities, there is no longer any point in seeing the horizontal effect as if rights of private actors have to be weighed up against each other. On one side of the human rights relation is no longer a private actor as the fundamental-rights violator, but the anonymous matrix of an autonomised communicative medium.

On its other side, the fundamental rights have to be divided into three dimensions:

- institutional rights protecting the autonomy of social discourses - the autonomy of art, of science, of religion - against their subjugation by the totalising tendencies of the communicative matrix; - personal rights protecting the autonomy of communication, attributed not to institutions, but to the social artefacts called 'persons';

- human rights as negative bounds on societal communication, where the integrity of individuals' body and mind is endangered.

Keywords: Transnational human rights, horizontal effect of human rights, multinational corporations, legal theory, system theory

JEL Classification: K 10, K 40

Suggested Citation

Teubner, Gunther, The Anonymous Matrix: Human Rights Violations by 'Private' Transnational Actors. Modern Law Review, Vol. 69, pp. 327-346, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Gunther Teubner (Contact Author)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität ( email )

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