A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights

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9780199203437: A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights

Constituting a profound reflection on the Courts interpreting role, the book [...] both enriches legal theory and provides stimulating reading material for everyone dedicated to the cause of human rights. ( From the foreword by Judge Spielmann)

Dr Letsas's book is as challenging as any theoretical writing about the European Convention on Human Rights in recent years. It starts from a very precise understanding about the nature of human rights and about the role of courts charged with the interpretation of the documents which transform the political idea of human rights into the regime of law. Not every Convention lawyer will find his positions utterly convincing but they all will benefit from absorbing and responding to the thesis he puts forward. This is an attractive and efficiently-written book which straddles the line between theory and practice with some confidence. ( Colin Warbrick, Birmingham Law School)

A powerfully argued, compelling and strikingly original contribution which deserves a central place in contemporary debates about the Convention and human rights in Europe...The author is...to be congratulated not only for producing such a ground-breaking and erudite study, but for opening up a potentially rich and fruitful research agenda to which he and others can contribute for a long time to come. ( Steven Greer, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 16, 2009)

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Does the right to life under article 2 ECHR include the right to terminate one's life? Does the right to private life under article 8 ECHR include the right to sleep at night free from airplane noise? Does the right to property under article 1 Protocol 1 ECHR entitle the former King of Greece to claim compensation for the expropriation of royal property, following a referendum? Do homosexual couples have a right to adopt under article 8 ECHR? This book looks at both how the European Convention on Human Rights has, and ought to, be interpreted. Unlike a purely doctrinal approach, it aims at proposing an evaluative theory of interpretation for the European Convention on Human Rights. And, unlike a purely normative account, it seeks to locate interpretive values within the history of the ECHR by surveying and analysing all the relevant judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently, the book discusses cases as much as it discusses philosophical theories, striking an appropriate balance between the two.

Examining how law should be interpreted and what legal rights individuals have, this book raises important questions of political morality that are both capable - and in need of - principled justification. George Letsas argues that evolutive interpretation does not refer to how most European member States now understand their obligations under the Convention but to how they should understand them given the egalitarian values that they share. He defends the idea of an emerging consensus combined with a theory of autonomous concepts as a way to provide the appropriate authority for the Court to adopt an egalitarian theory of human rights.

A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights provides a philosophically informed study of the methods of interpretation used by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. By drawing on Anglo-Americal legal, political and moral philosophy, the book also aims to provide a normative theory of the foundations of the ECHR rights.

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