International Law Studies


In Al-Saadoon and Others v. Secretary of State for Defence, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales has found that the United Kingdom’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) can be activated extraterritorially simply through the use by State agents of physical force against an individual. This article explains the judgment and places it in the context of the development of the law both in the United Kingdom and at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). While it remains subject to appeal domestically and its approach may not be followed by the ECtHR, it demonstrates a general trajectory towards greater application of the ECHR and other human rights instruments. In light of this, the article proceeds briefly to consider the impact of the judgment on armed forces. Although that impact should not be overstated, a wider range of the activities of armed forces would undoubtedly be drawn into the ongoing debate concerning the interaction between international human rights law and international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict).