From Litigation to Rights: The Case of the European Court of Human Rights

Jillienne Haglund, Ryan M. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Do regional human rights courts influence respect for rights? Beyond providing remedy for individual human rights abuse, case outcomes help frame potential social mobilization by setting standards and raising the rights consciousness of civil society actors. The expectation of mobilization can increase the government's costs of flouting the court's rulings. We argue that an enabling domestic environment characterized by two features increases government expectation of mobilization following regional court litigation. First, a robust civil society creates strong horizontal ties between potential mobilizing groups. Second, a national human rights institution (NHRI) creates vertical ties that both transfer information down from the court to civil society; and transfer demands up from civil society to political elites in position to make stronger human rights policy. Using data for all Council of Europe countries from 1980 to 2012, we find European Court of Human Rights litigation associated with higher respect for rights in an enabling domestic environment characterized by strong civil society and the presence of a NHRI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-222
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) (2020). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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