Depuis 2001, la question du rôle des libertés fondamentales comme moyen de contrainte de l’action des gouvernements à l’extérieur de leur territoire retient de plus en plus l’attention des cours constitutionnelles, des associations de protection des droits de l’homme et de la Cour Internationale de Justice.
La Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis, dans sa décision Boumediene v. Bush (2008) relative aux détenus de Guantanamo, a élaboré une « approche fonctionnelle » de la question, appliquant les droits constitutionnels de manière sélective aux activités extraterritoriales du gouvernement américain. Elle a ainsi rejeté à la fois le déni catégorique de droits extraterritoriaux à toute personne étrangère victime d’une activité de l’Etat hors de son territoire (qui avait la faveur des dissidents dans la décision Boumediene) et l’extension catégorique de la protection des droits constitutionnels à toute personne se trouvant sous le contrôle effectif d’un Etat (solution soutenue par certaines organisations de protection des droits de l’homme).
L’approche fonctionnelle a un caractère éminemment indéterminé mais sa sélectivité apparaît comme un bon moyen en vue d’atteindre le meilleur équilibre entre ce qu’il est possible de faire institutionnellement et le respect des droits de la personne.
Quant à la question de savoir si cette jurisprudence offrira une véritable limite aux pratiques anti-terroristes du gouvernement américain, celle-ci demeure toujours en suspens.
Nach Guantánamo : Extraterritorialität von Grundrechten im US-amerikanischen Verfassungsrecht
Seit 2001 beschäftigen sich immer mehr Verfassungsgerichte, Menschenrechtsorganisationen und der Internationale Gerichtshof mit der Frage der Wirkung von Grundrechten als Schranken der Regierungshandlungen ausserhalb ihrer eigenen Territorien. Der US-amerikanische Supreme Court hat in seiner Entscheidung Boumediene v. Bush (2008) zur Frage der Guantanamo-Gefangenen eine ,,funktionale Herangehensweise" angenommen, in dem er die Grundrechte selektiv auf die extraterritorialen Handlungen der US-amerikanischen Regierung angewandt hat. Er hat sowohl die Verweigerung des Grundrechtsschutzes für Ausländer, die Opfer einer Staatsmassnahme ausserhalb des Territoriums gewesen sind, als auch die generelle Erweiterung dieses Schutzes abgewiesen. Die funktionale Herangehensweise besitzt zwar einen unbestimmten Charakter, aber ihre Differenzierung erscheint als ein geeignetes Mittel, um die optimale Balance zwischen dem institutionell Möglichen und dem Schutz des Einzelnen zu erreichen. Die Frage, ob diese Rechtsprechung eine wirkliche Schranke für die Anti-terrormassnahmen der US-amerikanischen Regierung darstellet, bleibt jedoch vorerst weiter ungewiss.
After Guantánamo : Extraterritoriality of Fundamental Rights in U.S. Constitutional Law
Since 2001, the question of when fundamental rights constrain a government’s action outside its own national territory has increasingly claimed the attention of constitutional courts, human rights bodies, and the International Court of Justice. The United States Supreme Court in its decision about Guantánamo detainees, Boumediene v. Bush (2008), elaborated a “functional approach” that applies constitutional rights selectively to extraterritorial government action. This selective approach contrasts with both the categorical denial of extraterritorial rights of foreign nationals (favored by the Boumediene dissenters), and the categorical extension of extraterritorial rights to all persons within a state’s effective control (favored by some human rights bodies). The “functional approach” is highly indeterminate, but its selectivity may provide the best achievable balance between institutional feasibility and normative respect for persons, given the particular content of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Whether it will place significant constraints on U.S. counterterrorism practices remains to be seen.
Since 2001, the question of when fundamental rights limit a government’s action outside its own national territory has increasingly claimed the attention of constitutional courts, human rights bodies, and the International Court of Justice. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Guantánamo detainees provides only one example. Prominent analogues in Europe include the Grand Chamber decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Banković v. Belgium, which denied the applicability of the European human rights convention to the NATO bombing of Serbia, and Őcalan v. Turkey, which applied the European Convention to Turkey’s acquisition of custody over the PKK leader in Kenya prior to bringing him back to its own territory for trial . The Banković decision stands for the proposition that the concept of “jurisdiction” governing the applicability of Convention obligations is primarily territorial, but that exceptional circumstances may demonstrate an extraterritorial exercise of jurisdiction activating those obligations. Individual Chambers of the Court have tested the limits of the European Convention’s reach, recently affirming its applicability to a British-run detention facility in Iraq in Al-Saadoon v. United Kingdom. 
The UN Human Rights Committee’s approach to the extraterritorial effect of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has developed over the years. It currently argues for an expansive “effective control” test that would make the Covenant applicable to the actions of a state outside its own sovereign territory when the state has either effective control over the foreign territory in which it acts or effective control of the individual victim .
The International Court of Justice addressed questions of this kind in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall in occupied Palestine, and later in a contentious case regarding the activities of Uganda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo . The territorial scope of obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is crucial to the case currently pending before the ICJ between Georgia and the Russian Federation .
The Canadian Supreme Court has recently revised its approach to the extraterritorial application of its bill of rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court asserted that comity to a foreign sovereign limited the application of Canadian law even to the actions of Canadian officials operating within its territory. Canadian constitutional rights would apply only if the foreign sovereign consented to their application or if the challenged action would also violate Canada’s obligations under international law .
The problem of extraterritorial rights seems to have attracted relatively little discussion in French constitutional law. Questions of this kind could potentially arise for France in connection with military deployments in such locations as Afghanistan, Chad, or the Côte d’Ivoire. Interdiction of drug smuggling vessels on the high seas provides another relevant sphere of activity, as illustrated by the case of the Winner, pending before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 . Or the intervention against Somali pirates, whether brought back to France for trial, transferred to a third country, or returned to Somalia.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Bush Administration’s efforts to exploit the extraterritorial character of the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba as a basis for maintaining a rights-free detention zone in Boumediene v. Bush (2008) . The Supreme Court’s account of the geographical scope of the U.S. Bill of Rights involves a distinctive “functional approach” to considering individual and governmental interests in the context of extraterritorial government action.
I. The relevance of extraterritoriality
Why are questions about extraterritorial of application of fundamental rights, especially to foreign nationals, difficult ?
The basic concern is that positive fundamental rights provisions of human rights treaties and constitutions were originally drafted for the purpose of being applied within the domestic territory, and without taking into consideration the problems that could arise from extraterritorial application. These problems are both theoretical and practical.
The theoretical problems include the non-cosmopolitan character of the duties imposed by some rights provisions, and the non-universal character of some locally protected rights. There may be duties that a state owes only to its own citizens (such as access to elective office), or duties that a state owes only to its own residents (such as access to public education), or duties that a state owes only to persons within its territorial jurisdiction (such as police and fire protection), or duties that a state owes only to persons who stand in a particular relationship of power to the state. These limitations may be relevant to duties that are universally recognized as between states and the relevant classes of individuals. Furthermore, different national constitutions and different regional human rights treaties may recognize different sets of rights, or protect different concrete conceptions of abstractly similar rights. These locally protected rights may be appropriate for application within a particular culture or within a particular political system, but inappropriate – unnecessary or even wrongful – elsewhere.
The implementation of rights outside a state’s own territory may also face serious practical obstacles. The effective provision of some rights requires affirmative support from governmental institutions that the state cannot maintain in foreign territory. Moreover, there may be some situations in which the local sovereign objects to, or actively opposes, the state’s compliance with the right in foreign territory. These obstacles can arise among states in amity, but can be even more severe when the state is engaged in armed conflict with the local sovereign.
The relevance of these theoretical and practical concerns presumably varies depending on which fundamental right is at issue, for example, the right to education, the right to jury trial, or the right not to be tortured. Consequently, the best answer to the question of extraterritorial application of a legal instrument cannot be given in the abstract, but turns on the particular treaty or constitution involved. Relevant considerations may include : What rights does it contain ? How are they constructed ? What methods for implementing and enforcing the rights exist ? Does the document permit partial application, or is it all or nothing ? And, of course, what does the document itself say about its own territorial scope ?
It may be recalled that in the Banković decision, the European Court of Human Rights announced that it had no power to apply the European Convention selectively, that either all of the rights applied or none of them did. This positive methodological conclusion contributed significantly to the Court’s finding that the right to life under the European Convention did not limit the NATO action in Serbia.
The ICJ proceeded treaty by treaty in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall in occupied Palestine. It endorsed the Human Rights Committee’s view that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies to any exercise of jurisdiction by a state over persons outside its own territory, despite the conjunctive form of the language in Article 2(1) of the Covenant that defines a state’s obligations in terms of “all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction.” But the ICJ described the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights differently, saying that it “guarantees rights which are essentially territorial,” and found it applicable to occupied Palestine because of Israel’s longstanding exercise of territorial jurisdiction. This distinction reflects the general contrast between civil and political rights as principally negative duties and economic and social rights as principally affirmative duties of government provision, although a full account of each Covenant would include both types of duties.
 Banković v. Belgium et al., 2001-XII Eur. Ct. H.R., App. No. 52207/99 (Grand Chamber) (admissibility decision) ; Őcalan v. Turkey, 2005-IV Eur. Ct. H.R., App. No. 46221/99 (Grand Chamber).
 Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. United Kingdom, App. No. 61498/08, paras. 88-89 (Eur. Ct. H.R. 30 June 2009) (admissibility decision).
 See Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31, Nature of the Legal Obligations Imposed On States Parties to the Covenant (Article 2), UN Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.13, para. 10 (2004).
 Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2004 I.C.J. Rep. (July 9) ; Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda), 2005 I.C.J. Rep. (December 19).
 See Case Concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation), Request for Indication of Provisional Measures, 2008 I.C.J. Rep. (October 15).
 See R. v. Hape,  2 S.C.R. 292 (Sup. Ct. of Canada) ; Khadr v. Canada (Minister of Justice),  2 S.C.R. 125 (Sup. Ct. of Canada) ; see also Amnesty International Canada v. Canada (Minister of National Defense), 2008 F.C.A. 401 (Fed. Ct. App. Canada), leave to appeal to S.C.C. refused, 2009 CarswellNat. 1245 (Sup. Ct. of Canada 2009) (finding that the government of Afghanistan had not consent to the application of the Charter to detentions by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan).
 The original Chamber majority held that the detention of the crew of the Winner during its thirteen day voyage from the waters off the Cape Verde islands to the port of Brest lacked a sufficient legal basis and violated Article 5(1) of the European Convention, but that the unavoidable delay in bringing the detainees before a judge did not violate Article 5(3). Medvedyev v. France, App. No. 3394/03 (Eur. Ct. H.R. 10 July 2008). The Chamber also noted that the Government conceded the applicability of the Convention to the detention of the crew as an extraterritorial exercise of jurisdiction.
 128 S. Ct. 2229 (2008).