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The Principle of "Effectiveness" in the Recent Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights: Its Different Dimensions and Its Consistency with Public International Law – No Need for the Concept of Treaty Sui Generis

In: Nordic Journal of International Law
Author:
Daniel Rietiker Registry of the European Court of Human Rights

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Abstract

The recent past has shown an ever-growing fragmentation of the international legal system where lawyers and judges are facing more and more the phenomenon of the same legal question being discussed in different fora. This is particularly the case in the field of human rights that entails the dispersal of responsibilities for interpretation of numerous instruments among various different judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, of both universal and regional nature. In order to secure coherence and legal certainty in the system, it is important to respect a set of principles and rules of general international law, in particular Articles 31–33 of the 1969 Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties (VCLT). The first goal of this article is to analyse whether the Court applies the rules of the VCLT to the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Secondly, assuming that the VCLT fully applies, it will be analysed whether Article 31(1) VCLT is flexible enough to allow nevertheless some leeway for the development of specificities, especially as a result of the particular nature of the ECHR. Thirdly, it will be shown that the Court has indeed developed a set of specific methods of interpretation, aiming to render the rights enshrined in the ECHR effective. From the author's point of view, they can all be regarded as sub-forms (or partial aspects) of the teleological interpretation. He distinguishes between four dimensions of the principle of "effectiveness".

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