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Article

Access_open The Right to Same-Sex Marriage: Assessing the European Court of Human Rights’ Consensus-Based Analysis in Recent Judgments Concerning Equal Marriage Rights

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2017
Keywords same-sex marriage, gay marriage, European consensus, margin of appreciation, consensus-based analysis by the ECtHR
Authors Masuma Shahid
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution assesses the consensus-based analysis and reasoning of the European Court of Human Rights in recent judgments concerning equal marriage rights and compares it to the Court’s past jurisprudence on European consensus and the margin of appreciation awarded to Member States regarding the issue of equal marriage rights. The contribution aims to analyse whether there is a parallel to be seen between the rapid global trend of legalisation of same-sex marriage and the development or evolution of the case law of the ECtHR on the same topic. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the Court’s consensus-based analysis is problematic for several reasons and provides possible alternative approaches to the balancing of the Court between, on the one hand, protecting rights of minorities (in this case same-sex couples invoking equal marriage rights) under the European Convention on Human Rights and, on the other hand, maintaining its credibility, authority and legitimacy towards Member States that might disapprove of the evolving case law in the context of same-sex relationships. It also offers insights as to the future of European consensus in the context of equal marriage rights and ends with some concluding remarks.


Masuma Shahid
Lecturer, Department of International and European Union Law, Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Religious Freedom of Members of Old and New Minorities: A Double Comparison

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2017
Keywords ECtHR, UNHRC, religious manifestations, religious minorities, empirical analysis
Authors Fabienne Bretscher
AbstractAuthor's information

    Confronted with cases of restrictions of the right to manifest religious beliefs of new religious minorities formed by recent migration movements, the ECtHR and the UNHRC seem to opt for different interpretations and applications of this right, as recent conflicting decisions show. Based on an empirical legal analysis of the two bodies’ decisions on individual complaints, this article finds that these conflicting decisions are part of a broader divergence: While the UNHRC functions as a protector of new minorities against States’ undue interference in their right to manifest their religion, the ECtHR leaves it up to States how to deal with religious diversity brought by new minorities. In addition, a quantitative analysis of the relevant case law showed that the ECtHR is much less likely to find a violation of the right to freedom of religion in cases brought by new religious minorities as opposed to old religious minorities. Although this could be a hint towards double standards, a closer look at the examined case law reveals that the numerical differences can be explained by the ECtHR’s weaker protection of religious manifestations in the public as opposed to the private sphere. Yet, this rule has an important exception: Conscientious objection to military service. By examining the development of the relevant case law, this article shows that this exception bases on a recent alteration of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and that there are similar prospects for change regarding other religious manifestations in the public sphere.


Fabienne Bretscher
PhD candidate at the University of Zurich.

    This article sets out to contribute to the special issue devoted to multi-disciplinary legal research by discussing first the limits of purely doctrinal legal research in relation to a particular topic and second the relevant considerations in devising research that (inter alia) draws on non-legal, auxiliary disciplines to ‘fill in’ and guide the legal framework. The topic concerned is the (analysis of the) fundamental rights of minorities.
    The article starts with a long account of the flaws in the current legal analysis of the European Court of Human Rights regarding minorities’ rights, particularly the reduction in its analysis and the related failure to properly identify and weigh all relevant interests and variables. This ‘prelude’ provides crucial insights in the causes of the flaws in the Court’s jurisprudence: lack of knowledge (about the relevant interests and variables) and concerns with the Court’s political legitimacy.
    The article goes on to argue for the need for multi-disciplinary legal research to tackle the lack of knowledge: more particularly by drawing on sociology (and related social sciences) and political philosophy as auxiliary disciplines to identify additional interests and variables for the rights analysis. The ensuing new analytical framework for the analysis of minorities’ rights would benefit international courts (adjudicating on human rights) generally. To operationalise and refine the new analytical framework, the research should furthermore have regard to the practice of (a selection of) international courts and national case studies.


Kristin Henrard
Professor of minorities and fundamental rights at the Erasmus School of Law.

Ellen Hey

Andria Naudé Fourie

Jeroen Temperman
Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Erasmus Fellow; and Editor-in-Chief of Religion & Human Rights: An International Journal.
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