Research project

Bad Faith Violations of Human Rights

A review of the doctrine developed by the European Court of Human Rights to establish whether states violate the European Convention on Human Rights in bad faith.

In the last decade, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has started to ask whether ulterior political or economic motives are at play when states restrict human rights. In so doing, the Court has made important inroads into developing bad faith review standards.

Bad faith is an under-developed and contested doctrine in international law. Sceptics argue that it is hard to prove and may let too much of politics into law. The recent doctrinal innovations of the ECtHR, therefore, offer a critical case to study what a bad faith review is, what it is for, whether it works and whether we need more or less of it in international law in general and in human rights law and in Europe, in particular.

Project goals

  • Analyse the purposive evolution of bad faith reviews in the case law of the ECtHR.
  • Identify and analyse doctrinal innovations in evidentiary standards for establishing bad faith.
  • Examine the differences between bad faith and good faith review standards in human rights law and international law.
  • Examine the effects that bad faith reviews have on our understanding of the distinction between law and politics.
  • Situate the potential effects of this burgeoning judicial practice and doctrine vis-à-vis similar development in other fields of international law, most notably, international environmental law.
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Project lead

  • Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights

Researchers