Different rationales for referring to the ECtHR’s publics: European consensus between strategy and principle

This presentation will examine the different ways in which the ECtHR refers back to its publics (or refrains from doing so) in the justification of its judgments, focussing on the ECtHR’s references to European consensus. It will demonstrate, in particular, the tensions between various principled or strategic rationales for these references: the use of European consensus has been justified, for example, by reference to its democratic credentials and epistemological benefits on the one hand, and its potential to increase the ECtHR’s sociological legitimacy on the other. The presentation will discuss the consequences of conceptualising European consensus as a fulcrum of strategy and principle and consider alternative futures for regional human rights which turn away from consensus and instead engage the ECtHR’s publics via dissensus and contestation.