Precedent in International Courts: A Network Analysis of Case Citations by the European Court of Human Rights

British Journal of Political Science, 2012

44 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Mar 2012

Yonatan Lupu

George Washington University - Department of Political Science

Erik Voeten

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)

Date Written: March 3, 2012

Abstract

Why and how do international courts justify decisions with citations to their own case law? We argue that, like domestic review courts, international courts use precedent at least in part to convince “lower” (domestic) courts of the legitimacy of judgments. Several empirical observations are consistent with this view, which we examine through a network analysis of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) citations. First, the Court cites precedent based on the legal issues in the case, not the country of origin. Second, the Court is more careful to embed judgments in its existing case law when the expected value of persuading domestic judges is highest. These findings contribute to a developing literature that suggests international and domestic review courts develop their authority in similar ways.

Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, International Law, Precedent, Network Analysis

Suggested Citation

Lupu, Yonatan and Voeten, Erik, Precedent in International Courts: A Network Analysis of Case Citations by the European Court of Human Rights (March 3, 2012). British Journal of Political Science, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643839

Yonatan Lupu (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Erik Voeten

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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