Obligations of the state concerning the human rights of citizens and non-citizens in Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
Pelt, J. van
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Most western states legitimize the power of the state with the idea of a social contract. In contract-theories the people come together to form a binding contract that installs the state with sovereign powers and obligations. The obligations of the state are limited; instead of all members of the human species, the state has them mainly towards the citizens of the state. This thesis researches if accepting human rights as a guide for the national policies of a state morally obligates the state towards non-citizens with respect to human rights by looking at the theories of Hobbes and Locke. I concluded with Hobbes’s contract theory, that even though it uses a concept of pre-political rights that are shared by all humans to define the powers and duties of the state, his theory does not use human rights as a guideline for national policies. In Locke’s theory human rights do form the guideline for national policies. But, the contract determines that the duty of the state is limited to the enforcement of human rights towards the own members. When states do interfere outside of its borders with respect to human rights they will be morally obligated in certain ways.