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Lethal Force, the Right to Life and the ECHR

Narratives of Death and Democracy

By: Stephen Skinner
Media of Lethal Force, the Right to Life and the ECHR
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Published: 25-02-2021
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 224
ISBN: 9781509946693
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £31.99
Online price : £28.79
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About Lethal Force, the Right to Life and the ECHR

In its case law on the use of lethal and potentially lethal force, the European Court of Human Rights declares a fundamental connection between the right to life in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and democratic society. This book discusses how that connection can be understood by using narrative theory to explore Article 2 law's specificities and its deeper historical, social and political significance. Focusing on the domestic policing and law enforcement context, the book draws on an extensive analysis of case law from 1995 to 2017. It shows how the connection with democratic society in Article 2's substantive and procedural dimensions underlines the right to life's problematic duality, as an expression of a basic value demanding a high level of protection and a contextually limited provision allowing states leeway in the use of force. Emphasising the need to identify clear standards in the interpretation and application of the right to life, the book argues that Article 2 law's narrative dimensions bring to light its core purposes and values. These are to extract meaning from pain and death, ground democratic society's foundational distinction between acceptable force and unacceptable violence, and indicate democratic society's essential attributes as a restrained, responsible and reflective system.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: From Death to Democracy
2. Narrative and Human Rights Law
3. Lethal Force, the Right to Life and Democratic Society: Key Connections
4. Substantive Dimensions of the Right to Life and Democratic Society
5. Procedural Dimensions of the Right to Life and Democratic Society
6. Purposes and Values in Right to Life Case Law on Lethal Force
7. Narratives of Death and Democracy
8. Conclusion


“Skinner's book is challenging but rewarding. It is both theoretically and doctrinally complex, and deploys sophisticated techniques from legal theory, socio-political theory and interpretative analysis core to which is a reading of Cover and Paul Ricoeur. But at its centre is an important premise: the connection between the right to life under article 2 and democratic society in the context of the use of force by the state in the name of the rule of law – and how that connectedness goes to the very identity of a democratic society.” –  Christopher Stanley, Law Society Gazette

“Stephen Skinner's book has contributed significantly to our understanding of the vital democratic standards that underpin the right to life, as well as to our understanding of democracy itself … This book is a difficult and challenging read for lawyers as well as social and political theorists. It takes them out of their comfort zone – as it is meant to – but the effort is highly rewarding since it speaks to each discipline about one of the most important features of life in a democracy and one that is subject to endless debate.” –  Michael O'Boyle, Former Deputy Registrar, European Court of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights Law Review

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