Gustavo Minervini

Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Before the Human Rights Committee: First Considerations on S.A. and Others v. Italy

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On 27 January 2021, the UN Human Rights Committee rendered its decisions in S.A. and Others v. Italy and S.A. and Others v. Malta, dealing with the failure of the respondent States to rescue more than two hundred migrants who, following a shipwreck, perished in the Mediterranean high sea in 2013. The two cases marked a significant development in the interpretation of extraterritorial juris-diction inasmuch as the Committee applied for the very first time the functional model of jurisdic-tion it articulated in General Comment No. 36. Indeed, while the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties can well be deemed to be a cornerstone of contemporary international human rights law, there are still several uncertainties concerning the factual and legal elements which trig-gers States’ human rights obligations beyond their borders. Starting from the reasoning underpin-ning the Views of the Committee in S.A. and Others v. Italy, this work aims at appraising the effec-tiveness, advantages and shortcomings of a functional approach to extraterritorial jurisdiction, criti-cally analysing the possible far-reaching impact of the decision


  • functional approach to extraterritorial jurisdiction
  • Human Rights Committee
  • right to life
  • boat migrants
  • search and rescue (SAR) area
  • special relationship of dependency


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