Human Rights Research at PluriCourts 2016-2017

Research topics

After completing MultiRights in May 2016, we pursue three main strands of research on international human rights courts and tribunals (HRICs) 

1) The "Constitutionalisation" of international human rights courts and tribunals

We consider the roles and status of HRICs relative to other ICs and domestic bodies in processes of harmonization/integration of international law,
including:  

  • how are tensions between WTO, investment tribunals, the International Criminal Court, and HRICs currently dealt with, what options are there, which should be pursued?   
  • the relation between HRICs and domestic bodies, including civil society.

2) Reform of regional HR courts and treaty bodies

Several international human rights bodies are in the midst of prolonged reforms. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is of particular interest as responding to
legitimacy challenges: 

  • attempts by some states to roll back the perceived power of the ECtHR, by including calls for 'subsidiarity' and a wide 'margin of appreciation' to be enjoyed by the states.
  • revised modes of interaction between the courts and the states – a cross-cutting topic of interest for other PluriCourts research as well. Changes include evolving doctrines of the margin of appreciation; constraining this margin when it perceives an 'emerging European consensus' among the states; and a possible turn from performing substantive human rights review toward proceduralism – toward checking whether domestic authorities have followed certain procedures.

3) Comparisons between regional HR courts (especially ECtHR and IACtHR)

The regional human rights courts merit comparative research, not least because they are often thought to be adjudicating human rights which are universal in some sense. Such comparisons are among the crosscutting PluriCourts topics. Issues include how they interact with domestic authorities with varying democratic and rule-of-law credentials and different roles for civil society: the discretion they grant states as regards application of treaty norms and remedies; interpretation of apparently similar rights and of social and economic rights; gender equity among judges.

In 2017 we may be engaging with the development of human rights regime in the ASEAN region in the aftermath of the ASEAN Declaration on human rights, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore. We may also initiate comparative research about the African courts engaged in human rights adjudication.


  • Concluding conference for MultiRights February 29-March 1 2016: lessons from the reform processes of the ECtHR and the UN human rights treaty bodies.
  • Workshop/conference comparing ECtHR, IACtHR, and to some extent the African Court of Human Rights, in South America Fall 2016.
  • Participation in and possibly organization of workshop on the  doctrines of the ECtHR: Margin of appreciation/subsidiarity/European consensus.
Published July 12, 2016 11:18 AM - Last modified July 12, 2016 11:18 AM