The soldier, human rights and the military covenant: A permissible state of exception?

Ross McGarry, Gabe Mythen, Sandra Walklate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the light of the coalition government's plans to enshrine the tenets of the military covenant in law this article addresses the issue of the human rights of soldiers in the British Armed Forces. Over the last decade an increasing number of active and ex-service personnel, alongside families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sought legal redress with recourse to human rights legislation. Drawing upon a qualitative study involving veterans of the Iraq conflict, we present experiential accounts of structural and institutional deficiencies which indicate that the British state has placed military personnel at unnecessary risk and violated the military covenant. In conclusion, we argue that continuing to cast soldiers as 'exceptional actors' under the auspices of the covenant serves to conceal institutional negligence and compromises their fundamental human rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1195
Number of pages13
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • British soldiers
  • Human rights
  • Iraq
  • Military covenant
  • State of exception

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