Philosophical Background

Helen Keller, Magdalena Forowicz and Lorenz Engi

in Friendly Settlements before the European Court of Human Rights

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199600977
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595820 | DOI:
Philosophical Background

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This chapter sheds light on the question of whether friendly settlements are legitimate from an ethical point of view. Two lines of philosophical thought are applied to the problem. The first is whether all human rights violations should be settled via financial awards, even the most serious ones. The result is not unambiguous and makes clear that the procedural requirements for a fair settlement play an essential role in the ethical assessment. The second is whether a concrete friendly settlement fulfils this high standard of procedural fairness and substantive justice, and this can only be answered on an individual basis. As a matter of course, the Court cannot limit itself to a solution ex bono et gratia because friendly settlements often do not just have implications for the individual applicant, but also for a larger group of individuals. Ultimately, it is the Court's primary task to ensure that human rights are respected in the settlement. This is the equally prominent and difficult duty that the Court has to fulfil in each and every single case endorsed by a friendly settlement.

Keywords: European Court of Human Rights; human rights; ethics; justice; friendly settlements; unilateral declarations

Chapter.  10598 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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