Extra-territorial obligations Conference at Chulalongkorn University

“Rights-based governance beyond borders” The role of extraterritorial obligations (ETOs). 

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Co-organized by: the ETO Consortium; MA in International Development Studies (MAIDS) program, Chulalongkorn University; Focus on the Global South; the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; and the Stockholm Environment Institute 


Human rights provide a powerful tool for environmentally sustainable development. Many States in South East Asia and elsewhere still interpret their human rights obligations as being applicable only within their own borders. The attempt to ignore extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) and to limit obligations territorially has led to gaps in human rights protection (and environmental protection) in various international political processes including: the lack of human rights regulation and accountability of transnational corporations (TNCs); the absence of human rights accountability of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), in particular international financial institutions (IFIs); failure to apply human rights law to investment and trade rules, policies and disputes; and the lack of implementation of the duties to protect and fulfill Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs) abroad.

These challenges were addressed in 2011 in the “Maastricht Principles on ETOs in the area of ESCRs” that summarized recent developments in international human rights treaty law. Strengthened ETOs will help to safeguard people’s rights in the region – including those of women, peasants, and indigenous communities who are often most at risk. ETOs also articulate clear standards for intergovernmental organizations, UN reform – and the international human rights framework more broadly. They are closely linked to issues on the borderline of environmental law and human rights. They help to redress the growing influence of corporations’ control over national and international governance mechanisms and to defend democratic international rule that respects, protects and fulfills economic, social and cultural human rights.

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