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The European Court of Human Rights and its Discontents

The European Court of Human Rights and its Discontents

Turning Criticism into Strength

Edited by Spyridon Flogaitis, Tom Zwart and Julie Fraser

The European Court of Human Rights has long been part of the most advanced human rights regime in the world. However, the Court has increasingly drawn criticism, with questions raised about its legitimacy and backlog of cases. This book for the first time brings together the critics of the Court and its proponents to debate these issues. The result is a collection which reflects balanced perspectives on the Court’s successes and challenges.

Chapter 5: Why much of the criticism of the European Court of Human Rights is unfounded

Egbert Myjer

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, european law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


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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