Margot E. Salomon is Senior Lecturer, Centre for the Study of Human Rights and Law Department, London School of Economics. She was a member of the 6-person drafting committee that prepared the Maastricht Principles and co-author, along with the other committee members, of the accompanying Commentary.
This week Human Rights Quarterly published the 86-page legal Commentary to the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Maastricht Principles were developed over a two-year period between 2009 and 2011 and subsequently adopted by human rights experts at a meeting in September 2011 convened by Maastricht University and the International Commission of Jurists. Signatories include current and former members of UN human rights treaty bodies, former and current Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council, along with academics and legal advisers of leading non-governmental organizations.
The Maastricht Principles are built upon two key conceptual foundations. First, that international human rights law requires that States, when conducting themselves in a way that has real and foreseeable effects on human rights beyond borders, must ensure that they respect and protect rights, as well as in some circumstances, fulfil rights. Second, international law, most pointedly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, demands prescriptively that States act to realize rights extraterritorially, through ‘international assistance and cooperation’. The aim of the Principles is to enunciate the legal parameters in which these obligations are to be discharged (for an overview of the Principles generally, see Salomon and Seiderman, Global Policy Journal, November 2012) The aim of the Commentary is to set out the legal authority for the Principles.
A 6-person committee was convened to prepare an advanced set of Principles for negotiation, discussion and adoption. One challenge faced by the drafting committee was that much of the extant international jurisprudence regarding extraterritorial obligations, whether emanating from UN treaty bodies, regional human rights courts, or scholarly legal commentary, applied to these obligations in respect of civil and political rights. With its focus on socio-economic rights in particular, the emerging thread (common to both sets of rights) recognized by the Maastricht Principles is that an individual will be considered to fall within the jurisdiction of a State when that State exercises authority or effective control over territory or persons on foreign territory. Read the rest of this entry…