Glossary Term

Duty-bearers

Central to the idea of human rights is establishing and sustaining the relationship between the rights-holder (who has the right) and the duty-bearer (who has the obligation to fulfill the right). A duty-bearer is the person(s) or institution(s) which have obligations and responsibilities in relation to the realization of a right, such as the right to education. When a state has ratified a treaty that guarantees the right to education, it has the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill this right. According to international law, other actors also have responsibilities in upholding the right to education: multilateral intergovernmental agencies in providing technical and financial assistance; international financial institutions in their policies, credit agreements, structural adjustment programs, and measures taken in response to the debt crisis; private businesses also have the responsibility to respect human rights and avoid infringing on the rights of others; civil society plays a crucial role in promoting the right to education and holding the State accountable for its obligations; and parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children attend compulsory education.