Towards the age of subsidiarity

PluriCourts Lunch Seminar with guest researcher Reto Walther

Reto Walther will present a draft of Chapter 1 of his PhD dissertation, which concerns subsidiarity and procedural review in the ECHR system. This Chapter explores how the current focus on the principle of subsidiarity came about and how the division of responsibility between the ECtHR and the States has developed over the decades (and with it the purpose and function of the ECHR system and the ECtHR). It reveals first insights into the broader implications of subsidiarity as a structural principle of the ECHR system. This also exposes the link between the principle of subsidiarity and the ECtHR’s turn to procedural review. He suggests the perception of the ECtHR and its method of adjudication is ‘too intrusive’ as the main cause for the current prominent status of the principle of subsidiarity. A reinforcement of the national authorities’ role in the ECHR system shall rein in the ECtHR’s purportedly excessive intrusiveness. Paradoxically, even in times when the States seek to regain a greater say, the ECtHR remains in the driving seat. So far the States struggled with agreeing on concrete measures realising ‘the age of subsidiarity’, whereas the ECtHR pushes forward: in its view, the age of subsidiarity is process-based and its own role variable.


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, authority
Published May 29, 2019 2:08 PM - Last modified Aug. 21, 2019 3:13 PM