Ulfstein: The ECtHR uses and should use international treaties in its evolutive interpretation
"The states parties must have intended that the Convention should serve its purpose of protecting human rights under changing circumstances and developments in societal values", PluriCourts director Geir Ulfstein said at a conference organised by the European Court of Human Rights. Read the text of the presentation (SSRN).
The topic of the Conference was "The European Convention on Human Rights and General International Law". It gathered Judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and international Law scholars.
Ulfstein spoke about "Interpretation of the ECHR in the light of other international instruments". The ECtHR is primarily established to safeguard the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. However, some cases before the Court may also relate to other international treaties. How should the Court deal with these other treaties when it decides on complaints? This question is particularly pressing when the Court develops its case-law further (so-called evolutive interpretation). Can it base itself on other treaties to extend Convention rights?
Ulfstein mapped the current practice by the Court. It uses several arguments and interpretation techniques to invoke other treaties than the Convention in its case-law.
According to Ulfstein, the Court should make it clear that the primary legal basis for evolutive interpretation is the object and purpose of the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the Court should state that international instruments are taken into account to the extent they express common developments in the view of the states parties to the Convention.