Subsidiarity in the ECHR: Concept, Practice, and Legitimation Potential

PluriCourts Lunch Seminar with guest researcher Reto Walther.

This presentation introduces an ongoing PhD project concerning the system set up under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). First, the project seeks to clarify the meaning of the principle of subsidiarity and the related notion of ‘shared responsibility’. Second, it deals with the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) turn to procedural review: under this approach, the ECtHR reduces or increases its scrutiny on a case-by-case basis as a function of the human rights diligence applied by the national authorities in the domestic decision-making process that led up to an impugned measure. This practice is perceived as a way to implement the principle of subsidiarity. Finally, the project inquires whether this development may contribute to strengthening the ECHR system’s legitimacy. In sum, the – yet tentative – argument is that a more profound sharing of responsibility between the ECtHR and the States (and a better implementation of the principle of subsidiarity) requires and depends on a deeper procedural embeddedness of the Convention system, which the ECtHR may bring about by procedural review. The consequently increased interaction between the States and the ECtHR may enhance the legitimacy of the ECHR system.


PluriCourt Seminars are a forum for pluridisciplinary discussion of core issues relating to international courts and tribunals. PluriCourts scholars or invited speakers present new and ongoing research or comment on current questions. The seminars are open to everyone.

Tags: Human Rights
Published Feb. 18, 2019 1:53 PM - Last modified Feb. 20, 2019 10:27 AM