PluriCourts Lunch Seminar with Alain Zysset

Wednesday Lunch Seminar with Alain Zysset

Photo of European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

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At this Wednesday Lunch Seminar, Alain Zysset will present a chapter from his book Saving and Strengthening 'Democratic Society': The European Court of Human Rights in Times of Populism (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2024)


Chapter 5 - 'Zooming in on the Effects of Populist Rule'

In the last chapter (Chapter 4), the second piece of this investigation’s puzzle was placed, namely the legal and judicial conditions in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) generally operates – and how distinctive these conditions are among other courts. The subsidiary and international jurisdiction of the ECtHR remains of prime importance. Subsidiarity explains why designing the Court’s response to populism may differ from other apex or supranational courts because subsidiarity principally affects the Court’s role when it comes jurisdiction, interpretation, and remedies. In that chapter, Zysset emphasized how the rise of procedural review at the level of interpretation, in particular, points to how important (procedural) democracy is to the ECtHR justifying and limiting the scope of its review. Zysset highlighted the systemic risk that populism poses when that same democratic process is formally operating but substantively distorted and the rule of law corrupt.

In this chapter (Chapter 5), Zysset turns to a critical juncture of the book: the exercise of rationally linking the distortion of democracy and the corruption of the rule of law distinctive of populism to the correspondingly relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. In order to bridge the two, Zysset proposes to examine what populist governments typically do when they reach elected office. There is a clear distinction between the two because the idea of populism and the effects of populism may simply diverge – in fact, these effects may be unexpected and/or unintended (Krygier 2022; Sadurski 2022). For our purposes, exploring this link aims to facilitate the in-depth examination of the Court’s case law pertaining to the relevant Convention provisions in the next chapters. We need an approximate account of how populist rule affects which Convention rights, and then we can better examine whether the Court’s understanding of these rights suffices to counter these effects.


For more information about the lunch, please contact Lara Marie Nicole Eguia


PluriCourts Lunch 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.

Published Aug. 11, 2022 11:22 AM - Last modified Sep. 2, 2022 1:57 PM