In weak and failing states - so-called 'areas of limited statehood' - governance is not exclusively, if at all, exercised by state authorities. Non-state actors, such as warlords, clans, transnational corporations and NGOs, exercise power in parts of the territory and/or provide services to the population or parts of it and thus fulfil governance functions. In these cases, the question arises whether and to what extent these actors are bound by international law rules on governance. Human rights constitute the main body of law setting up such rules: they require certain substantive outcomes (the realisation of each human right), but they also presuppose the existence of certain institutions and procedures, such as participatory governance, respect for the rule of law, and the establishment of independent courts. In answering the question of whether a non-state actor is bound by these rules, it is helpful to distinguish different types of actor, e.g. local de facto regimes, parties to an armed conflict, transnational corporations, and NGOs. Building on existing rules of public international law, the different conditions are shown under which these actors are bound to respect public international law rules on governance.