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The recent case of Bosphorus Airlines v Ireland provided the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with an opportunity to refine further its relationship with the EU. In particular, the ECtHR was called upon to clarify when States could be held responsible for actions taken under the banner of the EU. This article examines the status quo prior to the Bosphorus judgment, and then scrutinises the judgment itself, focusing particularly on the use and scope of the doctrine of ‘equivalent protection’ to determine State responsibility. The doctrine as outlined in Bosphorus is applied to some likely scenarios involving EU action and its relative merits and disadvantages are discussed. The article also briefly addresses the further global implications of the judgment, namely for the legal accountability of the UN Security Council and the ongoing issue of responsibility of international organisations under international law.

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Journal article


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



6 (1)


87 - 130