Precedent in International Courts: A Network Analysis of Case Citations by the European Court of Human Rights
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2011
Why and how do international courts justify decisions with citations to their own case law? We argue that, like domestic review courts, international courts use precedent at least in part to convince ‘lower’ (domestic) courts of the legitimacy of judgements. Several empirical observations are consistent with this view, which are examined through a network analysis of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) citations. First, the Court cites precedent based on the legal issues in the case, not the country of origin. Second, the Court is more careful to embed judgements in its existing case law when the expected value of persuading domestic judges is highest. These findings contribute to a developing literature that suggests international and domestic review courts develop their authority in similar ways.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011
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55 The excluded cases are those designated importance level 3 by the Court.
56 This article is only invoked in conjunction with other Convention rights, limiting its application since the Convention includes no socio-economic rights other than education. The optional Protocol 12 remedies this but is ratified by less than half of Council of Europe member states.
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