The Obligation to Protect

States must defend the ESCR of its people

The obligation to protect requires the state to ensure that actions of third parties (non-state actors), under its jurisdiction, do not affect economic, social, and cultural rights. States must guarantee that essential goods and services such as healthcare, and education, that are provided by private actors, and are essential to the fulfillment of ESCR, are available to everyone. States are obliged to take all the necessary legislative and juridical steps to end discrimination based on income, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and political opinion.


Examples of violations:

The state fails to fulfill this obligation if it

  • allows private enterprises to pay their employers less than a living wage;
  • allows industries to pollute water and land resources;
  • allows a business to discriminate against a racial or ethnic group by paying them less or refusing to hire them.
  • allowing a third party to conduct house demolitions.