Strengthening the European Court of Human Rights: More Accountability through better legal reasoning

The project’s objective is to study the European Court of Human Rights’ case-law with the aim of proposing innovative solutions to strengthen the consistency and persuasiveness of the Court’s legal reasoning so as to improve its accountability and transparency. It is an ERC funded project Starting Grant to prof. dr. Eva Brems.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Eva Brems

Researchers: Maris Burbergs, Laurens Lavrysen, Saïla Ouald Chaib, Lourdes Peroni, Stijn Smet and Alexandra Timmer

Sponsored by European Research Council (2009-2014)

Human rights are under pressure, in Europe as elsewhere, due to several developments, namely

  • War on terror: the pressures generated by competing discourses;
  • Coping with the dangers of rights inflation;
  • Conflicting rights: how to handle rights as contested claims;
  • The challenges of dealing with universality under fire.

In this context, the human rights leadership of the European Court of Human Rights is of crucial importance. Its judgments should by all means avoid inconsistencies and its  legal reasoning should be both clear and persuasive so as to uphold  the Court’s credibility and maximize the impact of its decisions. This research programme intends to strengthen the consistency and persuasiveness of Court’s legal reasoning so as to improve its accountability and transparency.

The aim is to identify new technical solutions for important human rights problems, by the development and application of creative methodologies. The substantive innovations within the field of European human rights law that this project propose to make are:

  • the development of new  legal tools, which will consistently integrate the accommodation of the particularities of non-dominant groups into the reasoning of the European Court of Human Rights;
  • the development of a new  theoretical framework combining minimum and maximum approaches to human rights protection, followed by its translation into clear legal criteria for use by the European Court of Human Rights;
  • the development of a script that will enable the adoption of a consistent approach by the European Court of Human Rights to conflicts between human rights.

The methodological approach is characterized by the combination of empirical and normative dimensions, a 360° comparison, and the integration of qualitative research methods (interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders).

The ERC team founded the blog www.strasbourgobservers.com that comments on developments in the case law of the European Court of Human Right.

 

 

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