Human rights across borders


On 22 March 2017, a public hearing will take place at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights which was asked (by Colombia) to give an advisory opinion on the interpretation and scope of certain human rights obligations (e.g. the right to life and humane treatment) in the American Convention on Human Rights.

The request for an advisory opinion focuses on the possible impacts of grand scale projects on the marine environment in the Greater Caribbean Region. It raises many legal questions related to the effects of transboundary pollution originating in one jurisdiction on the rights of people under the jurisdiction or control of another country.

The so called “extra-territorial” application of human rights obligations is also an important issue in the climate change context. For example: could a major greenhouse gas emitting nation be held responsible under existing human rights treaties for harm to the lives and livelihoods of people in another country?

LRI’s director Christoph Schwarte was invited to submit his written observations on the request for an advisory opinion. His short note – along with the comments by 45 other experts, organisations and academic institutions – is available at: