Harms and Violations

Basic Necessities

Basic necessities measure how states are meeting their obligations to ensure an adequate standard of living for its citizens. IHRL defines this “adequate standard of living” as ensuring the ability for everyone to provide for him/herself and family with adequate food, clothing, housing, and improved living conditions. With regard to healthcare, States must also recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest standards of physical and mental health. Finally, States must also promote access to education that shall lead to the full development of the human personality, the sense of dignity, and strengthen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. To the extent that States are not providing for or facilitating access to such necessities, that may be considered a harm/violation of IHRL.



This set of harms/violations encompasses negative treatment of persons or groups based on various identity-based factors. For example, the motivating factor of such actions may be based on (real or perceived) cultural differences, ethnicity, gender-based, interreligious-tensions, race, or other categories. Documents tagged under this section, for example, may describe legal obligations to prevent certain types of discrimination from occurring, potential remedies to address past harms/violations based on suspect classifications, or discuss CST’s approach to respecting, harmonizing, or navigating “differences.”


Ecological Damage

Tags under this harm/violation reference when a person’s rights to an environment favorable to his/her development may be violated. This can be in the form of depletion of resources, the loss of biodiversity, pollution and climate change, or unsustainable consumption and production. Legal documents under this section may discuss state obligations to address any of these issues. CST documents on ecological damage may focus on a person’s place within creation, stewardship over natural resources, the eternal destination of goods, or concepts like human ecology that link social development to environmental development.



Tags under this harm/violation relate to various aspects of HR violations that relate to the economic or labor sector. For example, discussions of topics like child labor, the debt of nations, economic domination and exploitation, forced labor/slavery/trafficking, greed and corruption, poverty, underdevelopment, and unemployment will appear in this section. In general, economic/labor harms and violations deprive or diminish the right of peoples to benefit from the fruits of their labor, prevent entire nations from the free disposal of their wealth and natural resources, hinder governmental effectiveness, and prevent people and nations from reaching their full developmental potential. IHRL documents may discuss state obligations to prevent or mitigate these harms, while CST documents may discuss principles to promote the wellbeing of all workers and economic development that respects all dimensions of societal wellbeing and not merely its technical aspects.


Organized Crime

Tags under this section involve the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of offences that are transnational in nature and involve an organized criminal group, as well as the protection of persons who have been the object of such offenses. The database specifically divides these into two broad categories: illegal drug trade and the illicit trafficking of arms.


Political Rule/Governance

Tags in this section deal with HR violations that implicate governmental activity and governance. Civil liberties violations such as arbitrary arrest, detention, abductions, and disappearances will appear in this section, as well as discussions of topics such as deportation and forced migration that deal more with the flow of vulnerable persons and population groups. Additionally, a historical element will be present with the experience and residual effects of imperialism and colonial domination, totalitarian regimes, and unjust structures/structural sins. Legal documents might describe harms or violations in the form of a particular civil/political right being violated, whereas CST documents might discuss these in terms of responsibility of peoples and states to meet obligations to principles such as accountability, participation, respect for the rule of law, or preferential option for the poor, etc. 


Termination of Life/End of Life

In general, harms and violations under this section span the continuum of life from its beginning to its end. Abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia/suicide, and murder are explicitly included in this section. However, discussions of more novel developments in scientific research (e.g., Artificial Reproductive Technologies, Stem-Cell-Research) may also be present in this section depending on how closely it relates to the creation, destruction, or preservation of human life. IHRL documents tagged with this harm or violation may discuss these topics in a variety of ways, ranging from the permissibility of certain practices or its complete abrogation in the particular legal systems. On the other hand, CST documents might link discussion of these topics to various principles such as human dignity, mercy, justice, or a topic’s bioethical dimensions.  



Violence is, admittedly, a very broad category because it spans the numerous ways that persons can hurt, damage, or kill someone. But violence in this topic list is not limited to mere physical violence but can also include abuse/neglect/maltreatment of various sorts, encompasses armed conflict and war, coercion, domestic violence, sexual violence, terrorism, or torture. IHRL documents can discuss these topics in ways that show State obligations to limit, prevent, or regulate the instances violence, whereas CST documents may discuss these topics in the form of how they violate human dignity and our responsibilities to reduce or heal the effects of violence.


Violations of International Humanitarian Law

Violations of International Humanitarian Law are violations of any of the conventions, treaties, protocols, and/or agreements that States have signed onto and that have become legally binding to them. Many of these obligations are positive legal obligations pursuant to particular treaties, while others have attained the status of jus cogens and become a peremptory norm under international law (meaning, that no state may commit such violations or derogate from the standard in any circumstances). For example, genocide, war crimes, slavery, and torture are often considered clear violations of international humanitarian law. Nevertheless, many “lesser” crimes may also be considered violations of international humanitarian law despite not having (yet) attained the status of a peremptory norm because they may widely be considered as internationally wrongful acts or crimes.  This latter category may include deportation, apartheid, persecution of against an identifiable group, and sexual violence.