Duty-bearers are those actors who have a particular obligation or responsibility to respect, promote and realise human rights and to abstain from human rights violations. The term is most commonly used to refer to State actors, but non-State actors can also be considered duty-bearers. An obvious example is private armed forces or rebel groups, which under international law have a negative obligation to refrain from human rights violations. Depending on the context, individuals (eg parents), local organisations, private companies, aid donors and international institutions can also be duty-bearers.
Source: UNICEF Gender Equality - UN Coherence and You – Glossary: p.1.