Towards whom is a state responsible?

Under international law, states have legal responsibilities both towards both other states and individuals.

States, other international entities, and individuals enjoy rights and duties under international law. When states violate their international obligations, they may cause harm both to other states and to individuals.

Therefore, states have responsibilities:

  • Towards their own citizens and people under their jurisdiction, based on human rights law.
  • Towards civilians, including people living under occupation and combatants of the other party, during armed conflicts under international humanitarian law (IHL).
  • Towards other states and international organisations like the United Nations, based on general principles of international law, as well as specific bilateral and multilateral conventions that they have signed and ratified, including human rights and IHL treaties.
  • Towards the international community as a whole when it comes to very important rules, such as the prohibitions on genocide and torture. These rules are called erga omnes, - a Latin concept that translates as "towards all".