GoJIL Vol. 9, No. 2 (2019)
Avoiding the Legal Black Hole: Re-evaluating the Applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to the United Kingdom´s Targeted Killing Policy
In 2015, the United Kingdom (UK) became the first European State to incorporate extraterritorial targeted killing with drones into its counterterrorism framework. This article examines whether the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) extend to such operations. Scholars have suggested not, based on a comparison of a drone strike to the circumstances of the landmark Bankovic case, which was inadmissible on jurisdictional grounds. Consequently, the UK policy is perceived as occurring in a legal black hole outside the purview of the Convention. However, this article argues that the comparisons to Bankovic overlook the uniqueness of targeted killing operations and the context in which the UK policy is utilized. Considering the distinctiveness of the UK policy, this article re-evaluates the applicability of the ECHR and proposes that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) could find a jurisdictional link between the UK and the victims of targeted killing, thereby avoiding the perceived legal black hole.
Download the full text as a PDF