The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.


A Right to Come Within State Jurisdiction Under Non-Refoulement? Interpreting Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights in Good Faith Within the Context of Extraterritorial Migration Control

Laura Goller



Externalizing borders for the purpose of shifting and avoiding responsibilities under human rights law is not a new phenomenon in the context of migration control. In the Mediterranean, European States have increasingly sought new measures of extraterritorial migration control to avoid being held responsible under cornerstones of international refugee law such as non-refoulement. In the precedent Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) established that the exercise of effective control over persons on the high seas amounts to the exercise of jurisdiction within the meaning of Art. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As a result, European States began to find new ways of controlling their borders. The focus on physically controlled ‘push-backs’ shifted to administratively controlled ‘pull-backs’. Cooperation with third States by equipping and training their coast guards has become a way for European States to avoid any direct contact with migrants, thereby avoiding triggering jurisdiction as defined by the current case law of the ECtHR. This paper focuses, first, on how ECtHR jurisprudence responds to new forms of extraterritorial migration control and, second, on how this concept of jurisdiction relates to the obligation of States to fulfill their international obligations in good faith. How can the object and purpose of an obligation be undermined if that obligation does not apply in the first place? While the realization of Hannah Arendt’s concept of ‘the right to have rights’ seems to depend in practice on the geographical location of the individual, this paper addresses the question of whether there might be a right to come within the jurisdiction of a State, in the sense of gaining access to a legal system, applying a good faith reading to non-refoulement.



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