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Asserting the Right to Life (Article 2, ECHR) in the Context of Industry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2019


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In the liberal tradition, there has always been scepticism about the state's involvement in the activities of industry. Instead, internal measures by way of self-regulation and collective action have been preferred. In recognition of the reality that exclusive reliance on such solutions has not prevented violations of human rights, to which a high constitutional importance is attached, other arrangements have to be provided. In the system of the European Convention of Human Rights (hereinafter the Convention), positive obligations are imposed engaging the state in the active protection of human rights. The need to protect human rights against the hazards of industry has been the main issue in the case of Öneryildiz v. Turkey, in which, for the first time in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter the Court), a claim under the right to life (Article 2 of the Convention) has successfully been asserted in the context of industry.

Copyright © 2007 by German Law Journal GbR 


1 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 4 November, 1950, E.T.S. 5, 213 U.N.T.S. 221 (as amended by Protocol No. 11, adopted on 11 May 1994, entered into force on 1 November 1998).Google Scholar

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6 Öneryildiz [GC], (2004).Google Scholar

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15 The relevant part of the first paragraph of Article 2 is its first sentence, which reads: “Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law.”Google Scholar

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20 In L.C.B., the fact that the industrial activities (nuclear tests) were state-sponsored had no bearing on the Court's reasoning. The same applies to the case of Guerra and Others v. Italy, in which the factory whose activities gave rise to an Article 8 complaint belonged to private interests, Eur. Court H.R., Guerra and Others v. Italy, Judgment of 19 February 1998, App. No. 116/1996/735/932, Reports of Judgments and Decisions, 1998-I.Google Scholar

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23 The Chamber explained that “European standards…merely confirm an increased awareness.” Öneryildiz, (2002), at para. 64.Google Scholar

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25 Id. at para. 71.Google Scholar

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35 Id. at para. 109.Google Scholar

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38 The Chamber devoted a separate heading in its judgment to examine the “Respect for the public's right to information.” Öneryildiz, (2002), before para. 82. Equally, the Grand Chamber also examined the public's right to information, Öneryildiz [GC], (2004), at para. 90,108.Google Scholar

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50 Öneryildiz, (2002), at para. 104.Google Scholar

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54 Eur. Court H.R., Calvelli and Ciglio v. Italy, (cited supra note 11). See also the dissenting opinion of Judge Rozakis joined by Judge Bonello.Google Scholar

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57 Id. at para. 118.Google Scholar

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60 Id. p. 10, para. 5 & 6.Google Scholar

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