The Obligation to Respect

The obligation to respect requires the state refrains from any acts that violates economic, social, and cultural rights. States should recognize and uphold the ESCR of all the individuals who live under their jurisdiction (both nationals and non-nationals). Special attention should be shown to the right of groups that have been traditionally discriminated, such as the right of women and minorities. States should incorporate into national legislation ESCR that are recognized by the international community and as set forth in international treaties and documents.  Separate from the notion of progressive realization, this implies an immediate prohibition upon states from engaging in activities that deprive people of their ESCR.


Examples of violations:

  • Establishing legislation that abrogates or contradicts ESCR such as abolishing minimum wage laws;
  • Restricting activities of trade unions;
  • Reducing or eliminating funding for social services;
  • Forced evictions;
  • Cooperating with multinational corporations that violate work rights;
  • Supporting paramilitary groups that obstruct distribution of food or humanitarian supplies.