Published: 27 Jun 2017 | By Dr. Alice Donald
Implementing judgments of the European Court
The parliamentary dimension
When states appear before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) or the Committee of Ministers, it is government representatives who take the chair. Yet the executive is not the only arm of the state that has human rights obligations: courts and national parliaments do, too. The parliamentary dimension of human rights protection is being increasingly debated, both at the Council of Europe and elsewhere.
Parliamentarians are uniquely well-placed to press governments to justify their actions or inaction on human rights matters — where legislative reform is required to remedy a violation, their involvement is indispensable. In addition, greater parliamentary engagement in interpreting and monitoring human rights in the domestic context can help to counter the perception that human rights bodies constrain elected politicians undemocratically. In short, a more pro-active role for parliamentarians has the potential to increase both the effectiveness and (perceived) legitimacy of the human rights protection system established by the European Convention on Human Rights.