Judging Conflict: The European Court of Human Rights and the Kurdish Issue in Turkey

This research analysis written by Dara Yildiz attempts to navigate the intricate terrain of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as a lens through which the trajectory of the Kurdish issue is scrutinized. This analysis serves as an independent assessment shedding light on the human rights violations. The question guiding this book is multifaceted, aiming to unravel the effectiveness of the ECHR in addressing human rights violations within the context of the conflict. Yet, it transcends this particular case, seeking insight into the broader capacity of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to influence and provide redress in conflict-affected settings. Therefore, the critical question at the heart of this analysis extends beyond the specific case of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK, which has been designated a terrorist organisation by the European Union) and Turkey and delves into the broader impact and systematic shortcomings that a regional human rights system like the ECHR can wield on prolonged conflict.

This book briefly explores the history of Kurds and the genesis of the conflict with Turkey. Building upon this foundation, it delves into the background of the ECHR and its relevance in conflict-afflicted scenarios. Then, it proceeds with discussing transitional justice and outlining the procedural intricacies of submitting an application to the ECtHR and anticipating potential pitfalls in the context of protracted conflicts.

The focus will then shift onto a meticulous dissection of the ECtHR case law stemming from the region. Here, the objective is quite clear, that is to examine the perspective of the victim, analyse the outcome of the judgment, and assess the overall impact each case has had in terms of providing redress. In the absence of domestic proceedings in Turkey, the cases outlined here will serve as a narrative of the adjudication of the conflict.

Furthermore, an evaluation of the overarching effectiveness of the ECHR in addressing the issue is conducted, based on comparisons with other conflict areas, such as the strife in Northern Ireland.

This research was written with the support of the UN Voluntary fund for Victims of Torture, the Norwegian and Irish Governments and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.