Human Rights as a Basis for Justice in the European Union

Transnational Legal Theory (2017)

18 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2019

See all articles by Sionaidh Douglas-Scott

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; Queen Mary University of London

Date Written: November 10, 2017


Justice is a contested concept. A more graspable understanding of it requires the context of ‘injustice’. As such, a main theme of this paper is the disjunction between, on the one hand, strong reactions to injustice and a desire for some effective dimension to the EU, some normative adhesive that might bind the EU as an ethical entity; and on the other, the very great difficulty in identifying an enforceable concept of justice in an EU that continues to be driven by a market mentality. This paper also argues that it is the very sui generis, supranational status of the EU that creates particular obstacles to the realisation of a shared sense of justice. Due to this structural limitation, it is argued that any agreed concept of justice will remain minimalist. However, human rights remain a powerful symbolic and actual force for justice and a better focus for its achievement.

Keywords: Human Rights, EU, Justice, ECJ, Rule of Law, Injustice

Suggested Citation

Douglas-Scott, Sionaidh, Human Rights as a Basis for Justice in the European Union (November 10, 2017). Transnational Legal Theory (2017) . Available at SSRN:

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 3UL
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Queen Mary University of London ( email )

School of Economics and Finance
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London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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