Some Reflections on the Extraterritorial Application of the European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) entered into force in 1953. Since then, art. 1 of the Convention has regulated its jurisdiction. It states that "the High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in (...) this Convention." However, no definition of the term 'jurisdiction' is provided in art. 1 nor in any of the other articles of the Convention. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) generally upholds a strictly territorial notion of jurisdiction in its jurisprudence. The lack of codification and clear rules in this regard results in disagreement between writers as to the scope and role of the extraterritorial application of the ECHR. Some argue that it is of a general nature, whereas others claim that the ECHR applies extraterritorially in precisely prescribed scenarios only. In the course of this paper the instances where the ECHR has been applied extraterritorially will be examined. It will be demonstrated that these precedents are well-established in the ECtHR's jurisprudence and constitute a clear yet flexible legal framework for applying the Convention extraterritorially. It shall be further shown that the Court uses the notion of protection of human rights to develop extraterritorial jurisdiction. It will then be supposed that the ECtHR will continue to build its jurisprudence on the subject within the already-established framework. It will be demonstrated that this framework is narrow and applicable only in a limited number of scenarios, with national opposition being one of the reasons for this limitation. (fragment of text)
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