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Rights and obligations

The rights of one person end where the rights of another person begin. Rights are coupled by duties towards other persons and society as a whole. Thus the exercise of rights and freedoms may be limited to secure the rights and freedoms of others as well as the general welfare of others, provided these limitations are determined by law and are necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.
Back to TopPositive and negative obligations

A corollary to the RBA to conservation is that duty-bearers (States, multilateral agencies, business entities, organizations and individuals) have obligations to respect, protect, guarantee, and promote people’s rights and to respect international and national norms concerning conservation.
States have positive and negative obligations to secure the rights of those within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction. The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contains references to transnational obligations - for example in Article 2, the Covenant states that each party must take steps to acheive the full realisation of the rights contained in the Covenant, not individually but "through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical".
All human rights, civil and political, or economic, social and cultural, individual or collective may give rise to a variety of state obligations. The Rapporteur to the African Commission for the Social and Economic Rights Action Center and Center for Economic and Social Rights v. Nigeria case (also referred to as the Ogoni Case) distinguished between four types of State obligations [1].
States have obligations to respect, to protect, to promote and to fulfil human rights. These obligations are negative as well as positive duties for the State. The obligation of the State to respect is a negative obligation according to which the State should not interfere with an individual´s pursuit or enjoyment of fundamental rights. The second obligation is the positive obligation to protect right-holders against other actors. The obligation to promote implies that the State should make sure that individuals can exercise their rights, for example by promoting tolerance or raising awareness. Finally, the obligation to fulfil requires a State to ensure that a right can be fully carried out by taking positive measures [2].
Constitutional and national statutory guarantees may also reinforce or add to international minimum standards by guaranteeing rights not only against State agents, organs and actions, but also against private actors. In turn, this imposes on private actors the obligations to respect and protect the rights of others in all their activities, including the sustainable use and conservation of resources.
Back to TopSee also
- Shelton D.; A Rights-based Approach to Conservation; In: Greiber, T. (Ed.) 2009, Conservation with Justice, A Rights-based Approach IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, p.9
Back to TopReferences
[1] Social and Economic Rights Action Center and Center for Economic and Social Rights v. Nigeria, African Commission on Human and Peoples´ Rights, Communication No. 155/96, October 2001
[2] Fons Coomans, ‘The Ogoni Case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights’ p.752 The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 749- 760

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