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Suspending Rights: The State of Emergency in armed conflicts, legal exception and case-law practice

26th May 2014

 

CGHR Research Group paper

Suspending Rights: The State of Emergency in armed conflicts, legal exception and case-law practice

Federico Zumpani (University of Palermo)

Discussant: Dr Federica Paddeu (Research Fellow in International Law, University of Cambridge)

Talking about human rights in times of war invites a discussion of how derogation clauses can be applied to human rights in international and European legal systems. The exception clauses contained in international treaties law for the protection of human rights allow the Contracting States to suspend certain obligations in exceptional circumstances.

The aim of this paper is to identify the contradictions inherent in the international conventions for the protection of human rights in conceiving the state of emergency as a situation (tumultum) in which the “reason of state” overcomes individual rights. The cause of the emergency does not affect the applicable rules, but does however play a key role in the case of armed conflict, as in this case the application of the rules on the protection of human rights in peacetime intersects with the application of the corresponding rules of humanitarian law.

The exception clauses contained in human rights law treaties allow, within certain limits and for a limited period of time, the Contracting States to suspend certain obligations in exceptional circumstances. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed examination of the legal basis of suspended rights, starting from human rights inside an armed conflict.

This paper is part of the CGHR Research Group, a forum for graduate students and early-career researchers from any department and disciplinary background researching issues of governance and human rights in the global, regional, and national contexts.