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A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights$
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George Letsas

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203437

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203437.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights

George Letsas

Oxford University Press

The aim of this book is to discuss the most abstract and general issues that the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) raises. The more important the ECHR becomes in European law and politics, the greater the need to reflect on the moral foundations of rights and to insist that courts apply consistently principles of interpretation that can be justified as a matter of abstract values of political morality. This introductory chapter outlines the three specific issues that form the subject matter of this book. First, the worry that the judges of the European Court of Human Rights will exercise illegitimate judicial discretion if they interpret the Convention in a creative way. Second, the controversy over the interpretive methods actually used by the Court. Finally, the extent to which the Court's interpretation of the Convention rights conforms or should conform to the moral foundations of human rights.

Keywords:   European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, moral foundations, political philosophy, interpretive methods, judicial discretion, European law

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