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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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Liberal Principles of Human Rights Interpretation

Liberal Principles of Human Rights Interpretation

Chapter:
(p.99) 5 Liberal Principles of Human Rights Interpretation
Source:
A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights
Author(s):

George Letsas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203437.003.0006

This chapter looks at the work of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin with a view to explain the idea that states can justifiably interfere with ECHR rights under the relevant limitation clauses of articles 8-11 ECHR. Particular emphasis is placed on the distinction between reason-blocking and interest-based theories of rights. It is argued that the ECHR does not create abstract entitlements that certain individual interests be protected up to a certain degree. It is misleading to think of justiciable human rights as rights to particular interests. Rather, we have rights not to be deprived of some liberty or opportunity on the basis of certain impermissible considerations. Rights thus understood are absolute and subject to no ‘balancing’ exercise: it can never become justified for the government to restrict someone's liberty on the impermissible considerations that rights rule out.

Keywords:   Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, limitations of rights, reason-blocking theories of rights, interest theories of rights, absolute character of rights

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