1st Edition

States, Human Rights, and Distant Strangers The Normative Justification of Extraterritorial Obligations in Human Rights Law

By Angela Müller Copyright 2024
    372 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book combines legal and philosophical perspectives to address the question of whether states are bound by human rights when they act with effects on people abroad—states’ extraterritorial human rights obligations. Taking an innovative approach, it begins with a profound legal analysis of the issue at national, supranational, and international levels and then engages in depth with counterarguments against extraterritorially applying human rights, on the basis of which it develops its own ethical justificatory theory of extraterritorial human rights obligations. The book closes the circle by showing what the practical implications of this theory for the interpretation (and possible evolvement) of human rights law would be. In a world where critiques of, and resistance to, the general idea of universal human rights are on rise, the book contributes to closing the gap between judicial and normative perspectives on extraterritorial human rights obligations by inquiring into the ethical underpinnings of this topical legal challenge.

    This book will be of key interest to scholars and students in human rights, international law, and more broadly in political philosophy, philosophy of law, and international relations.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

    1. Introduction
    Part I: Legal Framework
    2. Fundamental Rights Protection in Domestic Constitutions
    3. Fundamental Rights Protection at the Supranational Level: The Case of the European Union
    4. International Human Rights Law
    5. Conclusion: The Legal Status of Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations
    Part II: Ethical Framework and Normative Justifiability
    6. Setting the Scene
    7. Statist Objections to Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations 
    8. A Justificatory Theory of Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations
    Part III: From Normative Justification to Legal Implementation
    9. Translating Ethical Principles to Legal Interpretation
    10. Interpreting the Concept of 'Jurisdiction'
    11. Concluding Remarks


    Angela Müller is Head of AlgorithmWatch CH and Head of Policy and Advocacy at AlgorithmWatch. Before writing her PhD thesis on extraterritorial human rights obligations at the University of Zurich, she obtained an MA in Political and Economic Philosophy from the University of Berne. During her academic career, she was a visiting researcher at Columbia University, New York, and Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

    'This book is an essential contribution to the scholarship on extraterritorial human rights obligations, and Angela Müller provides an in depth and convincing analysis not only of the legal basis for such obligations, but more importantly, their normative foundation.  Setting out the tension between the territorial conception of human rights obligations and the empirical fact that states impact upon human rights enjoyment for individuals far beyond their borders, Müller bases her analysis on legal philosophy to challenge the often dominant approach that rights are universal, but obligations are territorial.  Müller frames her thorough and mature analysis around the necessity to return to the normative origins of human rights law, namely that of equality and universality. This book is vital for our legal and normative understanding of extraterritorial and global human rights obligations.'

    Professor Sigrun Skogly, Lancaster University Law School

    'The book innovatively addresses key questions of human rights law and theory: Based on a critical assessment of counterarguments, it develops a strikingly profound justificatory theory of extraterritorial human rights obligations and shows its substantial consequences for the interpretation of crucial elements of contemporary human rights law. The arguments are sharp, concise, compelling and a pleasure to read.'

    Matthias Mahlmann, Professor of Legal Philosophy and International Law at the University of Zurich

    'This book is a must read in the field of extraterritorial human rights obligations – a most careful analysis both of legal and ethical aspects.'

    Oliver Diggelmann, Professor of International Law at the University of Zurich