An Empirical Look at the Amicus Curiae Practice of Human Rights NGOs Before the European Court of Human Rights
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, 2013, Vol. 31/3, 271–313
43 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013
Date Written: March 20, 2013
This article explores the practice of third-party interventions by human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Although permitted for over two decades, this practice has not been exhaustively documented. The approach adopted in this research has been to carefully review the Court’s database and to collect the amicus curiae briefs themselves, ranging from 1986 to 2013. Th is approach enables an accurate depiction of the amicus curiae activity before the Court in terms of figures. First, this research confirms the numerical increase of amicus participation. A little more than 140 human rights NGOs have been identified as third-party interveners before the Court: in addition to the traditional UK based charities and large transnational human rights organizations, the Court is more and more confronted with the presence of smaller and more specialized groups, as well as, recently, conservative groups. Finally, the results challenge the assumption that the presence of human rights NGOs acting as amici increases the likelihood that the Court finds a violation.
Keywords: Amicus curiae, Article 36 (2) ECHR, Civil Society, European Court of Human Rights, NGO, Third-Party Intervention
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