The Legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights: The View from the Ground , Strasbourg, May 2
1. WHAT IS THIS RESEARCH ABOUT?
Most recent discussions about the European Court of Human Rights (the “Court”) have been about itscaseload and its reform. These discussions not only had to confront questions about whether thecurrent caseload of the Court is harmful to its legitimacy, but also whether the reforms proposed toalleviate the caseload have diminished or will diminish its legitimacy. Despite the fact that questions of legitimacy have been prevalent in these debates, we lack a systematic and overall understanding of thegrounds of the legitimacy of the Court.In a three-year long study funded by the Economic Social Research Council of the United Kingdom,Dr.Ba
ak Çalı and her research team have taken a step back from reform debates and conducted an in-depth inquiry into the
of legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights amongstdomestic stakeholders. The study has been designed to further our understanding of perceptions of legitimacy on the ground and focussed on key stakeholder groups whose perceptions of the Court’slegitimacy have a direct impact on its authority: domestic politicians, judges and lawyers who litigatebefore the Strasbourg Court. After over 100 interviews in five Council of Europe countries and inStrasbourg and a rigorous data analysis process, we are a little wiser than when we started and wouldlike to share our findings with the Council of Europe community.Based on our original dataset on the perceptions of the Court’s legitimacy, we present and open todiscussion five areas to which our findings make a direct contribution.
What criteria of legitimacy do domestic actors employ in assessing the Court’smission and performance?2)
What factors are identified as legitimacy-eroding and legitimacy-boosting?3)
How do politicians, judges and lawyers differ in assessing the Court’s legitimacy?What are the implications of such differences?4)
Are there significant differences across the five countries and in Strasbourg inassessments of the Court’s legitimacy?5) What institutional reform proposals do these findings support or problematise?