Theirs but to do and die?: guaranteeing soldiers' right to life

Watkins, Richard (2017) Theirs but to do and die?: guaranteeing soldiers' right to life. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB)


On 25 October 1855 Lord Cardigan led the Light Brigade in a fateful charge against a Russian artillery battery. Poet Laureate Lord Tennyson immortalised the cavalry’s valour in verse.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do & die,

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred

Since then, British soldiers, sailors and pilots have been engaged in countless wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions across the globe. Many have died in defence of the United Kingdom and her interests. What obligations do states have to armed forces personnel who lay down their lives?

This thesis is about guaranteeing armed forces personnel’s right to life. It asks about the obligations states owe to their own armed forces under the European Convention on Human Rights. Military service exposes individual servicemen and women to countless dangers – the risk of being killed in enemy attack, friendly fire, the risks from hostile environments and infectious disease, difficult training exercises and the inherent risks surrounding weapons. This thesis examines whether states are under a duty to protect servicemen and women against such risks.

These risks are inherent to military service. Some, such as enemy attack, are virtually impossible to predict and guard against. The focus of this thesis is to establish realistic, practical and effective expressions of the right to life that fulfil states’ obligations under human rights law, whilst also maintaining military efficacy, discretion and decision-making authority. In order to be effective human rights law must not impose unrealistic burdens on states. This thesis considers how to provide effective, balanced legal protection for servicemen and women that makes allowances for the realities of military service.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Milanovic, Marko
Fraser, David
Keywords: armed forces, right to life, human rights
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 47723
Depositing User: Watkins, Richard
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 08:52
Last Modified: 08 May 2020 12:00

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View