Strategic litigation

Strategic litigation aims to bring about broad societal changes beyond the scope of the individual case at hand. It aims to use legal means to tackle injustices that have not been adequately addressed in law or politics.

It gives a platform for people affected by rights violations to be seen and heard, triggers discussion of these violations, and highlights weaknesses and gaps in the law.

Successful strategic litigation brings about lasting political, economic or social changes and develops the existing law. Public outreach materials accompanying the case can help to explain the context of the proceedings. This increases the progressive and precedent-setting impact of the legal action.


Bulgaria’s pushback practice condemned by ECtHR


Bulgaria’s systematic expulsion of refugees and migrants to Turkey without an examination of the individual risk of ill-treatment violates the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in July 2021.


From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR


With support from ECCHR, several refugees filed individual complaints against Macedonia in 2016. They assert that Macedonia’s practice of unlawful expulsions is violating the European Convention on Human Rights.


Lafarge in Syria: Accusations of complicity in grave human rights violations

Armed conflict

Eleven former Syrian employees of French company Lafarge submitted a criminal complaint against Lafarge in 2016. By having business relations with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria, the company may have taken part in the financing of the group, being therefore complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.


The Rumsfeld torture cases


Between 2004 and 2007, three complaints were filed in Germany and in France against members of the US Government, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and members of the military forces in connection with war crimes, torture and other criminal acts in the military prisons of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.