For Human Rights Beyond Borders

Human Rights have been locked up behind domestic bars to prevent their universal application to globalization and its much needed regulation. Extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) unlock human rights.

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Trade, Investment, IPRs

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More often than not bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements fail to properly address human rights as the basic regulatory framework for international commercial law including the issue of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). This has severe implications for the enjoyment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs). The lack of adequate regulation in this area allows third parties to systematically disregard human rights in matters of trade and investment.

In order to protect individuals’ enjoyment of ESCRs, it is necessary to ensure that accountability mechanisms are keeping up with the increased globality of trade and investment. ETOs provide a response and standards concerning both State and third party regulation to close the current gap between the acts, impacts, and corresponding accountability.

The Maastricht Principles reiterate the obligations of States to take deliberate, concrete and targeted steps, separately, and jointly through international cooperation, to create an international enabling environment conducive to the universal fulfilment of ESCRs, including in matters relating to bilateral and multilateral trade and investment (ETOP 29). States must elaborate, interpret and apply relevant international agreements and standards in a manner consistent with their human rights obligations, including those pertaining to trade and investment (ETOP 17). Moreover, States must take necessary measures -inter alia by administrative, legislative, investigative, and adjudicatory measures- to ensure that non-State actors, which they are in a position to regulate, do not nullify or impair the enjoyment of ESCRs. Moreover, all other States have a duty to refrain from nullifying or impairing the discharge of this obligation to protect (ETOPs 24, 25).

Focal Group 3 of the ETO Consortium deals with Trade, Investment & IPRs. If you want to get in touch with this focal group, please contact the Consortium’s Secretariat at