The ECtHR judgments that we are criticizing on this blog are certainly not the same that the Russian or, respectively, the UK Government are refusing to accept. However, there is a common theme: through a long series of ill-founded rulings, which obviously were in line neither with the wording of the Human Rights Convention, nor with any soundly argued moral principle, the Strasbourg Court has undermined itself.
It does not make much sense that a contribution on the website of the European Journal of International Law is now bewailing the UK’s unwillingness to comply with the Court’s decision in the Hirst case, in which the Court claimed that it is a human rights violation to withhold the right to vote from sentenced criminals, or Russia’s openly exhibited determination not to give any effect to ECtHR rulings that she considers to be in contradiction to her own constitutional law. It is the Strasbourg Court itself that is to be blamed: the poor quality of its jurisprudence in conjunction with its tartuffesque posture as “the Conscience of Europe” provides an easy excuse for States to opt out of a system that has lost its credibility. If there is a “risk of contagion”, it must be that the Court itself is the source of infection.
And nobody should be surprised it is a rogue state like Russia that is the first to take advantage of this situation. Their human rights record may be very bad, but it is difficult to argue that the Russians are wrong in refusing the authority of a Court that has gone out of control.