The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments: Introduction
M. Saul, A. Follesdal, G. Ulfstein (eds.) The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments: Europe and Beyond (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
19 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 6, 2017
We currently witness protests from many national parliaments against decisions and practices by regional human right courts and the UN human rights treaty bodies. This emerging international human rights judiciary (IHRJ) is said to threaten national democratic processes and 'hollow out' the scope of domestic, democratic decision-making.
Against this backlash, it is striking that domestic parliaments have a key role in holding state authorities to their international human rights based obligations. They interpret and apply human rights in the laws they make, and when holding the executive to account. Parliaments often fail in these tasks, with implications for the individuals whose rights are infringed – and burdening the IHRJ with cases. If progress is to be made, capacity and awareness must increase amongst parliamentarians at the domestic level. Thus argue international parliamentary bodies, such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The present book confronts the backlash head on, by examining the human rights role of national parliaments and insisting that the international human rights judiciary may advance the efforts of parliaments.
The book identifies and analyses opportunities and challenges for developing how the IHRJ relates to national parliaments. Taking Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as its main focus, and drawing on theory, doctrine, and practice from a range of perspectives, the contributing authors reflect on a series of key issues:
- What should be the role of parliaments to realise human rights? - Which factors influence the effects of the IHRJ on national parliaments' efforts? - How can the IHRJ adjust its influence on parliamentary process? - What triggers backlash against the IHRJ from parliaments, and when? - In an environment of increasing scepticism about supranational rights adjudication, how might greater parliamentary engagement in the interpretation and application of human rights law enhance the effectiveness and democratic legitimacy of the IHRJ?
This chapter provides the background and analytical framework for the book, through an account of the research problem in relation to on-going scholarly and policy debates to which the book contributes. An indication of the contents of the individual chapters is also provided.
Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, National Parliaments, Interaction
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