The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law
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The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law

  • Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters

International and supranational courts are increasingly central to the development of a transnational rule of law. Except for insiders, the functioning and impact of these courts remain largely unknown. Addressing this gap, this innovative book examines the manner in which and the extent to which international courts and tribunals contribute to the rule of law at the national, regional, and international levels.
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Chapter 7: The contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to the rule of law

Paul Lemmens

Extract

Before examining the contribution of the European Court of Human Rights to the rule of law, it seems useful to recall briefly its organisation, its competence and its role as a reviewing organ. The European Court should in the first place be seen as a ‘court’, ie a judicial body. It is composed of 47 judges, one per State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights. When a vacancy occurs, the relevant State Party submits a list of three names to the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly elects the judge out of that list. Judges serve on a full-time basis, which makes the Court a ‘permanent’ court, in session during the whole year. The Court is furthermore assisted by a registry, which is its ‘engine’: the registry plays a key role in identifying the manifestly inadmissible complaints and in dealing with these complaints, and its lawyers (around 300) prepare the drafts of decisions and judgments in the more complex cases. The Court sits in various formations. A single judge, assisted by a non-judicial rapporteur (a senior lawyer of the registry), can declare a complaint inadmissible, ‘where such a decision can be taken without further examination’, in proceedings that are extremely summary (Article 27 of the Convention).

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