This introductory chapter explains the common themes underlying the volume. It recounts and connects three broadly defined current academic discourses and how they are connected: the debate on the concomitant challenges stemming from a backlash against the European Court of Human Rights and the rise of systems with an authoritarian or populist bend, a renewed interest in the history of the European Convention system, especially its ‘alarm bell’ function as well as the role that historical injustices and large-scale violations of human rights have played in the case law of the Strasbourg Court. The contribution makes the argument that it is important to view these discourses in an interconnected manner. If the historical function of the Court was to establish an ‘alarm bell mechanism’ against authoritarian backsliding, the current political situation is the right moment for testing the Court’s ability to this effect. The chapter also situates the book in the broader context of various current debates in the human rights scholarship, both legal and historical. It finishes by providing a roadmap to the volume and its individual contributions.
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