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Five Years of Maastricht Principles: Human Rights beyond Borders and States

If we were to advocate the States to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, it is not sufficient for us to look solely at the acts of national governments within their territory. Whetherin negotiating investment agreements, addressing climate-destruction- or providing legal frameworks for businessenterprises: Human rights are increasingly integrated and have now become important terms of reference in international relations.

Human rights obligations are now well recognized to extend beyond borders. These obligations are carried byone or more States at the same time, in some casesby the global community of States. From the point of view of each States or victims of violations, these obligations are “extraterritorial”. Five years ago, 40experts in international law and human rights met at aconference convened by Maastricht University and the International Commission of Jurists. They adopted the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Principles are drawn from international law and based on extensive legal research. The experts came from all regions of the world and included current and former members of international human rights treaty bodies, regional human rights bodies, Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as academic and non-governmental experts.

As it was stated by Ian Seiderman, the Legal and Policy Director of the International Commission of Jurists, the Maastricht Principles have become an important point of reference in identifying just what States are expected to do in human rights terms beyond their borders.States must respect and protect rights in their activities abroad. They also have an obligation to help realize the rights of people globally through international cooperation and assistance.

Extraterritorial State obligations are increasingly called upon in the UN Human Rights System and are on the agenda in treaty negotiations of States in relation to regulating transnational corporations(TNCs) and other business enterprises.

As free trade agreements (FTA) and investment agreements from various TNCs proliferate around the globe, there have been growing concerns in regards to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which allows investors to sue States for harming their business prospect. ISDS has paved a way for human rights violations by TNC investors, and possibly supported by its Home State, who claimed lawsuits against Host States for servingthe public instead of private interest.

Acknowledging thisissue and other issues related to business and human rights, Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) has been committedto addressglobal trade liberalization issues like FTA and ISDS, and conducting advocacy to promote the strategy of sovereign and just economic development.

Recently, IGJ is focusing on the attempt to reject the undemocratic process of Indonesia-European Unions Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which will allegedly bring more harm to Indonesian society.

The Maastricht principles were a fundamental progress to hold States accountable for their extraterritorial conduct.These principles have helped IGJ and countless civil society organizations as an influential reference in achieving each of their collective causes by holding States accountable of their extraterritorial conduct.

In regards to this five years celebration of the Maastricht Principle, IGJ hopes that the implementation of these principles will bring forth considerations of holding accountable not only against States, but also beyond other non-state actors like TNC investors to embrace human rights principles in their business operations and investment agreements.

Indonesia for Global Justicewww.igj.or.id;igj@igj.or.id

September 28th2016.

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