Available in Russian
Author: Tigran Oganesian
Keywords: European consensus; evolutive interpretation; margin of appreciation; living instrument; European Court of Human Rights; European Convention on Human Rights
Consensus serves as an integral tool and “helper” of the ECtHR in evolutive interpretation, making it possible to identify agreement among the Member States of the Council of Europe on ambiguous issues. Consensus remains for the time being an uncontested tool that allows the Court to be most objective in evolutive interpretation and to preserve the legitimacy of its resulting judgments. The legitimacy of ECtHR judgments in the eyes of the public and the Member States of the Council of Europe largely depends on the perfection and clarity of this consensus-seeking methodology. This study analyzes the formal grounds for the application of consensus based on the Preamble of the Convention and the rules of interpretation set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Most of the analysis is devoted to the case law of the ECtHR, allowing identification of some criteria for determining the European consensus. It is noted that sometimes the Court refers to international trends and international treaties not ratified by Member States to reach the consensus it needs. A comparative analysis also reveals synonyms of “consensus” which are used in evolutive decisions to mitigate irritation on the part of the respondent State in sensitive cases. The author also draws attention to the fact that the Court’s consensus does not necessarily have to be based on an analysis of the practice of all Member States of the Council of Europe or even a majority of Statges, since such an approach would not allow the evolutionary development of minority rights.
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