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On Inter-State Litigation and Armed Conflict Cases in Strasbourg

In: European Convention on Human Rights Law Review
Author:
Philip Leach Professor of Human Rights Law; Director, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC); Faculty of Law, Middlesex University, London, UK, p.leach@mdx.ac.uk

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Abstract

The reluctance of Council of Europe member states to challenge each other at the bar of Europe, through the litigation of inter-state cases at the European Court, used to be a regular feature of the Strasbourg system. However, conflicts of different kinds in eastern Europe have led to a surge of such cases in recent years, as well as the introduction of thousands of related individual applications. The serious challenges presented, in particular by conflict-related cases, have led some commentators to question whether they can feasibly remain part of the Strasbourg process. For others, the focus should rather be on how such cases can be more effectively processed and assessed. This article emphasises the significance of both inter-state cases in general, and of cases arising from armed conflict (including individual applications): their political and legal importance; their centrality to the European human rights system; and how vital they are for individual victims of human rights violations. It analyses a number of controversial or challenging aspects of the adjudication of these cases, and puts forward some proposals for reform.

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