Principal Duty Bearer: The States
The RBA assumes that every human being is inherently a right holder who should enjoy universal human rights that the state must guarantee. By ratifying the different United Nations human rights treaties, states automatically assume the principal roles of guaranteeing these rights, or, according to the RBA language, the “principal duty bearers” (Ljungman, 04 Ljungman, Cecilia M., COWI. Applying a Rights-Based Approach to Development: Concepts and Principles, Conference Paper: The Winners and Losers from Rights-Based Approaches to Development. P. 6. … Continue reading ) States must take all necessary procedures to guarantee their citizens’ 14 rights. Ljungman (2004) quotes van Weerelt’s description of the obligations of states as the principal duty holders as follows.
Following is an example that has been adapted from Fundar, et al. (2004 Fundar – Centro De Analisis e Investigacion, International Human Rights Internship Program, International Budget Project; 2004. Dignity Counts: A guide to using budget analysis to advance human … Continue reading ). It illustrates 15 the different roles of the states in guaranteeing rights at the three levels of obligations.
|Aspect of Right
|Obligation to Respect
|Obligation to Protect
|Obligation to Fulfill
|Accessibility of food
|Keep people’s existing access to food
|Keep others from infringing on this enjoyment (e.g., developers who take over farmland)
|Enact programs to ensure greater access to food
|The nutritional content of food
|Keep existing nutritional levels
|Protect purity of nutritional quality of food away from contamination (e.g., by use of toxic fertilizers)
|Take steps to increase nutritional intake and nutritional quality of food.
Moral Duty Bearers: Non-State Entities
Although states play the role of the principal duty bearer, other non-state entities have obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of people. Some literature refers to these non-state entities as the moral duty bearer. The following quote from Ljungman (2004) describes the roles and categories of moral duty bearers.
It is important, however, to note that advocacy works on two levels:
● It works with the right holders to help them claim their rights in legitimate ways while protecting the rights of others. Working especially with the disadvantaged and marginalized right holders is crucially important as part of helping them regain confidence in their ability to equally and fully participate in the decision-making process.
● With the Duty bearers – be they state or non-state – to do the following:
- Exert deliberate effort to resect, protect, and fulfill people’s rights; and Make themselves accountable and responsive to the people in this regard.
- The order of these two points is significant. It is vital to work with the right holders to help them claim their power before working with the Duty Bearers. Had it been reversed, it might imply that the duty-bearers would grant the marginalized and disadvantaged this right.
|Ljungman, Cecilia M., COWI. Applying a Rights-Based Approach to Development: Concepts and Principles, Conference Paper: The Winners and Losers from Rights-Based Approaches to Development. P. 6. November 2004. www.sed.manchester.ac.uk/idpm/research/events/february2005/documents/Ljungman_000.doc
|Fundar – Centro De Analisis e Investigacion, International Human Rights Internship Program, International Budget Project; 2004. Dignity Counts: A guide to using budget analysis to advance human rights, p. 21. 2004