Human Rights Speaker Series: The Extraterritorial Obligation of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The Next Step in Victims’ Protection or an Impossible Demand for States to Accept?


Economic globalization has meant that States and non-state actors have the power to influence the enjoyment of human rights across the world. Consequently, the access of individuals, groups, and indigenous peoples to these rights may be affected by the extraterritorial acts and omissions of states and other global actors. Since human rights obligations are so far only enforceable against States, experts have discussed for years whether they can be made responsible for their failure to respect and protect these obligations beyond their boundaries. The jurisprudence and practice of international human rights bodies have consolidated the understanding that States must respect civil and political rights extraterritorially. With respect to economic, social and cultural rights, however, this issue has generated substantial skepticism, particularly concerning the positive duty to protect these rights. Notwithstanding, most recently there has been a growing trend by international human rights bodies to uphold States’ extraterritorial obligations in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights, either in regard to acts and omissions of State agents or non-state actors under their control or subject to their regulation. This panel will reflect upon these developments, taking into account the opposing views on this issue, as well as the resistance from some states to endorse this new interpretation supporting the extraterritorial application of human rights in the area of economic, social & cultural rights. 


  • Olivier De Schutter, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and University of Louvain
  • Jessica Evans, Human Rights Watch (Invited)
  • Siobhán McInerney-Lankford, World Bank Legal Vice Presidency

Moderator: Gudmundur Alfredsson, University of Akureyri (Invited)

This event is sponsored by ASIL and the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. 

Date and Location

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Tillar House
Address 1: 
2223 Massachusetts Ave NW
Zip Code: