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A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights$
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George Letsas

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203437

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203437.001.0001

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Autonomous Concepts, Conventionalism, and Judicial Discretion

Autonomous Concepts, Conventionalism, and Judicial Discretion

(p.37) 2 Autonomous Concepts, Conventionalism, and Judicial Discretion
A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights

George Letsas

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on the doctrine of ‘Autonomous Concepts’, in order to support the claim that the ECHR differs from other international human rights instruments. It is argued that the case law on Autonomous Concepts shows two things. First, that the ECHR is widely seen as granting legal rights that condition the deploying of Contracting States' monopoly of coercive force, even when it is controversial what these rights are. Second, that the relevant actors understand the ECHR rights in a non-conventionalist way because these rights need not be the same as what the Contracting States (or the majorities in them) take them to be.

Keywords:   autonomous concepts, conventionalism, disagreement, conventionalism, legality, integrity

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