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Non-State actors under international human rights law

Speaker: Professor Robert McCorquodale, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, University of Nottingham
Chair: Dr Gerd Oberleitner, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
November 2003


Human rights law has traditionally concentrated on action by states. The assumption has been that it is governments and their officials that have primary responsibility both for protecting human rights and for ensuring that human rights are not infringed, either by state agents or by third parties. But in the global age, how credible is this concentration on state action? A plethora of non-State bodies now act on the international stage, but what responsibilities if any do these organisations and corporations have under human rights law?

Robert McCorquodale graduated in both economics and law from the University of Sydney, Australia. After working for a number of years as a lawyer with leading firms in Sydney and London, and after completing his LLM, he became a Fellow, Lecturer and Director of Studies in Law at St John's College, University of Cambridge in 1988. He then became Associate Professor in International and Human Rights Law, and Head of School, at the Australian National University, before being appointed to his current position in 2000.

Robert's teaching and research interests are in the areas of international law, human rights law and constitutional law, with his primary research interests being in international human rights law. He has provided advice and training to governments (in both developed and developing countries), corporations, organisations and peoples, concerning international law and human rights issues, including advising on the drafting of new constitutions. He is co-author of one of the leading texts in international law: Cases and Materials on International Law; and is on the editorial board of a number of respected academic journals.