Opening or closing the door to international justice: A critical Evaluation of the present-day ‘Admissibility conditions’ restricting the ‘Right to Access of Individuals’ to Regional Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Human Rights Bodies in the Americas, Africa and Europe

This project studies the present-day ‘admissibility conditions’, in the light of the right to access of individuals to regional judicial and quasi-judicial human rights bodies in the Americas, Africa and Europe.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Yves Haeck

Researcher: Helena De Vylder

Sponsored by Special Research Fund Ghent University (2013-2017)

Corte_IDHThe right of individual petition is the cornerstone of each international human rights mechanism. In order to guarantee the consequent access to justice at the international level, the freely and fully guaranteed and exercised right of individual petition is required. The so-called ‘admissibility-conditions’ literally form the gateway to a successful procedure or failure before an international monitoring body.

In view of the right of access to justice, it is absolutely essential that the admissibility conditions are applied in a correct way: in conformity with their purpose, and during proceedings which are compatible with the guarantee of due process. However, the current trend clearly shows that international judicial and quasi-judicial monitoring bodies are primarily concerned with the strengthening of the ‘filtering-function’ as a result from the huge number of individual petitions. When they do not fully take into account the impact of their actions on the key ‘right to access’, this poses a threat to the right of individual application. The wish of international policy makers and states of an underlying and creeping policy towards a ‘pick-and-choose’ and ‘cherry-picking’ decision-making is apparent.Moreover, case-law shows that certain groups of vulnerable applicants suffer various burdens to meet the admissibility criteria. In the same time, it seems that adjudicators are less and less giving proof of a user-friendly approach.

This study aims to (1) analyse in-depth and critically the issue of admissibility and (2) to form recommendations for regional human rights bodies to reform, review and streamline the admissibility conditions and their examination thereof, by reconciling the user’s interests and efficiency in the light of the existing caseload.


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