The past decades have seen a surge in the number of cases before national courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) relating to acts committed by armed forces deployed in military operations abroad. The first hurdle faced by the courts is to ascertain whether the European Convention on Human Rights applies to such operations. The ECtHR has on a case-by-case basis attempted to specify criteria for the applicability of the Convention which are however often viewed as too vague, too ad hoc or unrealistic by States and their armed forces. Moreover States argue that the relevant legal regime to apply is international humanitarian law rather than human rights law. The second issue is to determine whether the acts comply with the law, the question being whether human rights law is the most appropriate legal regime to assess the lawfulness of a military operation. Unhappy with such an approach, some States are considering ways to avoid the applicability of the Convention, suggesting that they could invoke the derogation clause or withdraw from the Convention. Using examples drawn from the experience of the UK armed forces this paper argues indeed a number of problematic issues with the Court’s approach need addressing.