Turning Criticism into Strength
Edited by Spyridon Flogaitis, Tom Zwart and Julie Fraser
Chapter 5: Why much of the criticism of the European Court of Human Rights is unfounded
On 13 March 2012 the Netherlands Senate debated the role of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’). The debate, which met the highest quality standards, demonstrated that the Senate is not without reason referred to as the Chambre de Reflection At the debate’s conclusion a motion was proposed – and one week later adopted – backed by almost all political parties. The motion urged the Dutch Government to continue to observe its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’ or ‘the Convention’), while at the same time emphasising that there is no reason to demand that the Court leave a greater margin of appreciation to the Contracting States. The Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, HE Ivo Opstelten, whose October 2011 policy document on the Court was the main impetus for the debate, did not object to adopting the motion. In his foreword to this volume, Minister Opstelten again emphasised the need to support the Court. This recent debate suggests that – as far as the ‘reflecting part’ of the Netherlands political scene is concerned – much of the criticism of the European Court of Human Rights is unfounded. Nevertheless, it may be interesting to listen to the Court’s critics in order to find answers to the question of how best to deal with their criticism. At the High Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights hosted by the UK in April 2012, participants adopted the Brighton Declaration
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