Universality or Diversity of Human Rights? Strasbourg in the Age of Subsidiary

admin - 18th April 2014

Judge Robert Spano will speak for the Oxford Human Rights Hub and the Oxford Public Law Discussion Group on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 4pm.

The European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg is entering a new phase in its existence. The conclusions of the Brighton Conference in 2012 and the adoption of Protocol No. 15 create a strong incentive for the Court to develop its jurisprudence by formulating a more robust and coherent concept of subsidiarity. But will this development have a fragmentary effect on European human rights protection, increasing the level of diversity, moving further away from the universality of human rights?

In his lecture, Judge Robert Spano will argue that it is an inherent feature of the European Convention on Human Rights that the Court is entrusted with the abstract interpretation of the principles of the Convention, whereas the Member States have the primary responsibility, subject to European supervision, to secure the concrete application of those principles at national level. Recent judgments demonstrate that the Court has begun to give greater deference to the reasoned assessment by national authorities of their Convention obligations. The conditions for the allocation of such deference to national authorities will be examined. In this regard, Judge Spano will comment critically on some of the recent views on the Strasbourg Court expressed extrajudicially by senior members of the United Kingdom judiciary. Lastly, a greater emphasis on subsidiarity in the application of the fundamental requirement of the exhaustion of domestic remedies will be explored, especially in the context of the mechanism under the Human Rights Act providing for declarations of incompatibility.


This event is jointly hosted by the Oxford Human Rights Hub and the Oxford Public Law Discussion Group.

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