Small Wars Journal

Human Rights Law is Harming Britain's Armed Forces

Human Rights Law is Harming Britain's Armed Forces by General David Petraeus – The Times

The growing “judicialisation” of conflict should concern Britain, just as it concerns me. “Lawfare”, as it’s also known, has resulted in many British soldiers being accused in court, sometimes decades after the events in question have taken place.

The problem is increasing friction between the two main legal frameworks within which military operations take place. On the one hand, under the Geneva Convention (which codified the law of armed conflict) lethal force is allowed as a matter of first resort against a clearly identified enemy. On the other hand, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), lethal force is to be used only as a last resort and only in exceptional circumstances.

This friction has increased in Britain because the law of armed conflict is being steadily displaced by European human rights law. The ECHR was conceived as a safeguard against despotism, yet the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has increasingly extended its application from domestic situations to the battlefield.

This has given rise to judicial pursuit of British soldiers and veterans, and it is reported to be having a chilling effect on recruiting and retention of British armed forces and on their overall morale, which is why I came to London this week to speak alongside British veterans at the think tank Policy Exchange…

Read the entire op-ed.