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Positive Obligations and Gender-based Violence: Judicial Developments

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image of International Community Law Review

International human rights protection traditionally protects individuals from human rights violations committed by their own states. This has been criticised by many, and feminists in particular, as failing those who are violated in the 'private sphere', by actions perpetrated by non-state actors not the state itself. Yet protection from the actions of non-state actors is now increasingly falling within the ambit of international human rights law through positive obligations on states, particularly seen in the concept of due diligence. Developments in this area are analysed in this article with focus on recent decisions of international human rights judicial institutions on cases concerning gender-based violence to show how gender-based violations committed by non-state actors are increasingly being included and interpreted as human rights violations. Whilst not without problems, it is argued that the creativity and potential for protecting all persons from human rights violations is shown, particularly through developments towards a right to personal autonomy, identity and integrity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Law, Queen Mary, University of London


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