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Human rights applied to CSDP operations and missions

The European Union (EU) must not only promote the observance of human rights by other international actors, but also respect them itself in the course of all its actions abroad. However, the applicability of international human rights instruments to EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations is problematic since the EU itself, as opposed to its Member States, is not party to these instruments. International human rights apply to EU-led missions as part of customary international law.


These human rights obligations are enforced through specific accountability mechanisms. The EU is also responsible for human rights violations committed by private military and security services when fulfilling duties assigned by the EU.

The envisaged accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights raises questions as to the attribution of acts during CSDP operations to theMemberStates and EU. The European Court of Human Rights’ case law on the extra-territorial application of the Convention gives guidance as to its future relevance for EU missions abroad.

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