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Extending International Human Rights Obligations to Political Parties

Tim Wood

Keywords: Non-state actors; human rights obligations; international law; political parties

Conventional wisdom holds states, international organisations and occasionally individuals to be subjects of international law, with debate ongoing whether corporations and rebel groups can be said to have international human rights obligations. Political parties have not figured in this debate, yet of all non-state actors they are arguably the most natural bearers of international obligations. When in power, they span the very divide between public and private spheres which has historically determined the scope of application of human rights law. Even in opposition, political parties have the capacity to foster or thwart individuals' participation in governance and, with it, their dignity and human rights. Reflecting this centrality to democracy, they are directly addressed by diverse international instruments and bodies, a trend to be embraced and encouraged from prosecution authorities to election observer organisations.

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