If a state forces a citizen to enter a contract, e.g., become a customer of a company, does that violate some human right och human right like protocol (e.g., ECHR)?

Compare with article 20b in UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prohibits states from forcing citizens to join an "association".

For context, I am in EU/a country that has signed all (?) European human rights charters etc.

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    There is no ECHR right not to be required to enter into a contract specifically, so it would depend on the circumstances whether some other right is being breached. You would need to provide more details of exactly what requirement is being imposed. For example, if you are forced to enter into a work contract that could breach the prohibition on slavery. If you are forced to join a church, that could breach your right to freedom of religion. Etc.
    – JBentley
    Commented Mar 22 at 10:56
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    Is it a contract or is it akin to mandatory registration, which is not a contract? This is unclear.
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 22 at 11:06
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    I think you need to be more specific in your example?
    – pjc50
    Commented Mar 22 at 11:42
  • this seems to be something like forced to join the sewer plant or buy electricity from a supplier.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Mar 22 at 13:08
  • @TigerGuy Are you really forced to join the sewer plant? Isn't it more that it is illegal dump waste in the street, but if you want to you can have your own sewage tank and hire someone to empty it and take care of it?
    – d-b
    Commented Mar 22 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


If you read 20.2 in the context of 20.1, "association" means e.g. trade unions.

EU societies widely accept the right of the state to force e.g. motorists to buy insurance from one of a few available providers, or home owners to buy utilities (rather than discharge sewage on their property) even if there is only one available provider. This is not very controversal.

There are more interesting cases, like a statutory education institutions requiring their students to get accounts with commercial providers, but again this is sustained.

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    Let's say that you can't pay taxes to the tax authority in cash but have to be customer with a bank and send the money electronically. You don't have to buy a car that needs an insurance (in fact, it's very common in Europe to not have a car) but you can't avoid paying taxes.
    – d-b
    Commented Mar 22 at 18:28
  • @d-b You may also have to buy a bike from one of the companies that makes bikes to get to the tax office, right? Commented Mar 22 at 19:21
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    @d-b, do you want an answer how human rights are commonly interpreted in the EU, or do you want to argue what they should be? The latter is off topic here.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 22 at 20:44
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    @user253751 No. You can walk.
    – d-b
    Commented Mar 22 at 22:48
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    @o.m. I wonder if there is a human right that says that the government can't force you to enter a contract. Why did you even ask?
    – d-b
    Commented Mar 22 at 22:49

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