The Doctrine of State Responsibility as a Potential Means of Holding Private Actors Accountable for Human Rights

By Chirwa, Danwood Mzikenge | Melbourne Journal of International Law, May 2004 | Go to article overview

The Doctrine of State Responsibility as a Potential Means of Holding Private Actors Accountable for Human Rights


Chirwa, Danwood Mzikenge, Melbourne Journal of International Law


[The past few decades have witnessed an increase in the influence of private actors on domestic and international policies concerning the economy, welfare programs, taxation, trade, legislation, labour issues, education, development and other important aspects of life. This period has not only highlighted that the state alone is incapable of guaranteeing the protection of human rights, but also that human rights are prone to violations by many actors other than the state. These revelations have heightened the challenge to the conventional view that human rights obhgations bind only the state but not private actors. This article argues that the doctrine of state responsibility represents an under-utilised device for ensuring that private actors respect human rights including economic, social and cultural rights. International, regional and domestic human rights jurisprudence is investigated in order to define the precise circumstances in which state responsibility might be incurred for violations of human rights committed by non-state actors. It is also argued, considering the potential obstacles to its efficacy, that recourse to the doctrine of state responsibility should be considered as a complementary mechanism to other methods of holding non-state actors responsible for human rights violations.]

CONTENTS

I     Introduction
II    The General Rules of International Law on State Responsibility
        A  Definition of State Responsibility
        B  State Responsibility for Private Acts or Omissions
        C  The Applicability of the General Rules of International Law
           on State Responsibility to Human Rights Cases
III   State Responsibility for Violations of Human Rights by Private
      Actors
        A  The State's Duty to Protect Human Rights
        B  The Due Diligence Test
IV    State Responsibility and Violations of Economic, Social and
      Cultural Rights
        A  International Human Rights Law Cases
        B  Regional Human Rights Law Cases
V     Host State Responsibility
        A  Definition
        B  Limitations of the Host State Approach
VI    Home State Responsibility
        A  Its Recognition in International Law
        B  The Alien Tort Claims Act
        C  The Duty of Care Principle
        D  Limitations of the Home State Approach
VII   Conclusion

I INTRODUCTION

The issue of private sector responsibility for human rights is most topical in contemporary human rights discourse. In an era of globalisation, the market-oriented policies of liberalisation of markets, privatisation of state-owned enterprises, promotion of foreign direct investment and deregulation of the private sector have been given prominence. (1) Key players in the global economy such as multinational corporations ('MNCs'), international financial institutions and multilateral institutions promote these principles. (2) Their wide adoption by states has seen them ceding more powers and competencies to private actors than was the case previously. (3) As a result, it has become increasingly clear that state action alone is not sufficient to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights. For example, access to essential medicine is not only dependent on the policies and actions of the state but also on the decisions and policies of pharmaceutical corporations. Banks and other financial institutions play a critical role in ensuring access to housing. With increasing privatisation, access to such basic services as water, health, education and electricity is also dependent on the actions and policies of private service providers. (4) Further, recent experience has demonstrated that private actors, like state actors, can and often do violate human rights. MNCs, for instance, have been implicated in corruption and violations of trade union fights, International Labour Organization labour standards, environmental rights, the right to development, and civil and political rights. (5) Feminist scholars have also contended, quite persuasively, that women's and children's rights are vulnerable to infringement in private relations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Doctrine of State Responsibility as a Potential Means of Holding Private Actors Accountable for Human Rights
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.