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Hard power and the European Convention on Human Rights

On 18 June 2019, Peter Kempees defended his thesis 'Hard power and the European Convention on Human Rights'. The doctoral research was supervised by Prof. R.A. Lawson and Prof. H. Duffy.

Peter Kempees
18 June 2019
Leiden Repository

‘Hard power’ is a concept used in the field of international relations. In relation to this research, the term is used for violence, and in particular military violence, in national or international armed conflict or law enforcement and economic sanctions.

The research investigated the possibilities for state parties that resort to using ‘hard power’ to avoid liability on the grounds of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). For instance, in relation to derogation of obligations in time of war or emergency (Art. 15 ECHR), jurisdiction in respect of obligation (Art. 1 ECHR) and imputation for potential violations of the Convention. The basic premise is that the ECHR remains applicable, even in cases of the use of ‘hard power’ outside the national borders.

The research required the study of the case law of the ECtHR and the former European Commission of Human Rights. Other areas of law besides the ECHR, in particular humanitarian (war) law and general international law, are also considered in the research to the extent that overlap was established with the ECHR. 

It is demonstrated that within the confines laid down by the ECHR as a human rights convention, state parties have been able to maintain sufficient room to pursue their legitimate policy objectives.

The research is relevant not only to classic war situations, but also to cases involving the use of ‘hard power’ which are more relevant in current international practice such as the war on international terrorism, UN peacekeeping operations, hybrid warfare, cyber-attacks and combatting piracy.

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