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Working group

Supranational Courts Against Authoritarian Regimes

A Comparative Study of the European and Inter-American Human Rights Courts

Add to calendar 2022-03-09 15:00 2022-03-09 16:30 Europe/Rome Supranational Courts Against Authoritarian Regimes Sala degli Stemmi and Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


09 March 2022

15:00 - 16:30 CET


Sala degli Stemmi and Zoom

Organised by

The International Law Working Group hosts a presentation and discussion with Dr. Dilek Kurban, who will present her current and past research. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

In authoritarian regimes, where political dissidents and minorities face persecution and denied remedies by domestic courts, can supranational courts fill the justice void? What are the possibilities and limitations for human rights courts to engage in effective oversight of authoritarian regimes engaging in legal repression and, in some cases, state violence? These questions have become an international dilemma. I have first addressed them in my CUP book (Limits of Supranational Justice, 2020), in which I demonstrate that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been ineffective vis-à-vis Turkey due, in part, to its reluctance to fully exert its powers. In my Max Weber project, I wish to further explore whether this restraint is due to limitations inherent to supranational adjudication or whether a more assertive oversight is possible. The research seeks to contrast the ECtHR with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR).

The notion of effectiveness, I argue, has two dimensions: exhaustiveness and responsiveness. The first concerns whether supranational courts fully exert their powers vis-à-vis authoritarian regimes by expanding their substantive doctrines and flexibly interpreting their procedural rules. The second refers to the degree to which supranational courts empower domestic human rights activists and minorities by responding to victims’ justiciable claims by, for example, holding fact-finding hearings. My starting premise is that supranational courts can be effective vis-à-vis authoritarian regimes if they set their primary goals on empowering domestic human rights groups instead of changing government behaviour. Since authoritarian regimes defy the basic premises of democracy and rule of law by treating dissidents and minorities as political captives, the effectiveness of supranational courts in such settings is best assessed where they are most needed – authoritarian regimes.

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