The European Court of Human Rights and its Discontents
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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.
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Chapter 16: Conclusion: The European Convention on Human Rights as a common European endeavour

Turning Criticism into Strength

Julie Fraser


The European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’ or ‘the Court’) is a unique body that has played a pivotal role in strengthening the protection of human rights across Europe for over half a century. Its impact and inspiration extends globally, as it has been emulated and its jurisprudence argued in courts far beyond the bounds of Europe. Both the critics and proponents of the Court in this volume agree that it has long been part of the most advanced and successful human rights regime in the world. There is also consensus that, notwithstanding the Court’s achievements in human rights, the Convention system is far from perfect. It is clear from the chapters in this volume that it is not only the critics who seek reform of the Court. As Sajó wrote, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (‘ECHR’ or ‘the Convention’) is about a Europe based on a shared value of human rights and the ‘willingness to accept Europe as unified by a common understanding’ of such rights. Given the (increasing) size and scope of both the Council of Europe and the Convention, it is not surprising that determining and maintaining such a ‘common understanding’ is proving difficult. The Court, tasked with interpreting and applying the Convention, has faced growing criticism regarding both its practice and procedure. While there may or may not be danger in overestimating the problems facing the Court, there is certainly danger in underestimating them.

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