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The Anonymous Matrix: Human Rights Violations by ‘Private’ Transnational Actors

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Do fundamental rights obligate not only States, but also private transnational actors? Since violations of fundamental rights stem from the totalising tendencies of partial rationalities, there is no longer any point in seeing the horizontal effect as if rights of private actors have to be weighed up against each other. On one side of the human rights relation is no longer a private actor as the fundamental-rights violator, but the anonymous matrix of an autonomised communicative medium. On the other side, the fundamental rights are divided into three dimensions: first, institutional rights protecting the autonomy of social discourses – art, science, religion - against their subjugation by the totalising tendencies of the communicative matrix; secondly, personal rights protecting the autonomy of communication, attributed not to institutions, but to the social artefacts called ‘persons’; and thirdly, human rights as negative bounds on societal communication, where the integrity of individuals' body and mind is endangered.

Keywords: Transnational human rights; horizontal effect of human rights; multinational corporations

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Professor of private law and legal sociology, University Frankfurt

Publication date: May 1, 2006


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