Non-execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights is a matter of serious concern. In order to address it, the reasons for and dynamics of non-execution need to be fully considered. This paper engages with non-execution by sketching the underpinning issues that help to explain it and, we argue, must shape our responses to it. Through this engagement, we conclude that non-execution is properly understood as a phenomenon that requires political rather than legal responses. This calls into question the usefulness of the infringement proceedings contained in Article 46(4) of the Convention and which it has recently been suggested ought to be embraced in attempts to address non-execution. We argue that, even if the practical difficulties of triggering Article 46(4) proceedings could somehow be overcome, the dynamics of non-execution suggest that such proceedings would be both futile and counterproductive, likely to lead to backlash against the Court and unlikely to improve States’ execution of its judgments.
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