Human Rights Committee recognizes Extra-Territorial Obligations under the ICCPR

Human Rights Committee recognizes Extra-Territorial Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

27 November 2012

The Human Rights Committee recently issued its Concluding Observations, or findings, related to the periodic report of Germany. Germany appeared before the Human Rights Committee recently to present its periodic report on implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In April 2012, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) intervened with a Parallel Report to the Human Rights Committee regarding violations of Germany’s extra-territorial obligation to protect human rights by not regulating or holding accountable a German corporation involved in forced evictions in Uganda.

The report covered the forced eviction of the villages of Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga and Kirymakole in the Mubende District of Uganda that were carried out in 2001 on behalf of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe to make way for a coffee plantation. The GI-ESCR Report concluded that Germany violated its extra-territorial obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect human rights by failing to regulate Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and for failing adequately to investigate and appropriately sanction Neumann Kaffee Group for its complicity in the forced evictions. To date those evicted continue to live in extreme poverty due to their forced eviction and have been unable to realize their right to a remedy in either Uganda or Germany.

This initial report resulted in the issue of extra-territorial application of the Covenant included in the List of Issues which defined the scope of Germany’s periodic review. That List of Issues stated:

“17. Please comment on allegations that families forcibly evicted at gunpoint in August 2001 from their homes and lands in Naluwondwa-Madudu, Mubedne District, Uganda to make way for a large coffee plantation owned by Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe Hamburg continue to live in extreme poverty and explain what the State party has done to investigate the role and responsibility of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe.”

The Global Initiative followed up with another Parallel Report prepared for the October/November 2012 session of the Committee, which resulted in the recent Concluding Observation, which states:

“16. While welcoming measures taken by the State party to provide remedies against German companies acting abroad allegedly in contravention of relevant human rights standards, the Committee is concerned that such remedies may not be sufficient in all cases (art. 2, para. 2).

The State party is encouraged to set out clearly the expectation that all business enterprises domiciled in its territory and/or its jurisdiction respect human rights standards in accordance with the Covenant throughout their operations. It is also encouraged to take appropriate measures to strengthen the remedies provided to protect people who have been victims of activities of such business enterprises operating abroad.”

According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, “With these clear pronouncements, the Human Rights Committee made clear the extra-territorial scope of human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which now lays the foundation for future advocacy before the Committee, including opening up avenues of accountability and remedies under the Individual Complaint procedure.”

Read the Initial Parallel Report HERE.

Read the List of Issues HERE.

Read the Follow Up Parallel Report HERE.

The full Concluding Observations are HERE.

For more information on Extra-Territorial Obligations and human rights, see ETO Consortium



“I just received a forward from Jennie Green about the HRCommittee’s extension of extraterritorial obligations to Germany. I just wanted to write to say good work and congratulations! The Human Rights Clinic has also been working to broach extraterritorial obligations with regards to arms, and your work has certainly paved the path for us to push those issues.”

– Laura Matson, Human Rights Litigation and International Legal Advocacy Clinic, Student Director, University of Minnesota Law School


“Congratulations! This is great news for all of us. Already thinking about how to use it in Haiti…..”

– Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti


“Great development on both extraterritoriality and business and human rights! Congratulations and thanks!”


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