Principle of freedom of association for armed forces upheld by Court

8 Oct 2014

On 2 October 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) overruled France in its attempt to prevent the general right of association for armed forces. While certain restrictions can apply to military personnel in trade unions, a ban on trade union membership violates the freedom of assembly.

Principle of freedom of association for armed forces upheld by Court

While two very different cases were discussed within the ECHR, Matelly v. France and Adefdromil v. France, in both cases freedom of association was violated.

Freedom of association is detailed in Article 11 of the ECHR which states “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Article 11 goes on to note “This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.”

In France, military personnel are not permitted to join military trade unions or associations which aim to achieve union aims. This unanimous ruling from the ECHR overrules France’s current position.

To read the press release issued by the European Court of Human Rights, please follow this link.

The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty under which the member States of the Council of Europe promise to secure fundamental civil and political rights, not only to their own citizens but also to everyone within their jurisdiction. The Convention, which was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome, entered into force in 1953.