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Strategies of Compliance with the European Court of Human Rights
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Strategies of Compliance with the European Court of Human Rights
Rational Choice Within Normative Constraints

Andreas von Staden

352 pages | 6 x 9 | 3 illus.
Cloth 2018 | ISBN 9780812250282 | $89.95s | Outside the Americas £72.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
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"Using deep case studies of the compliance by Germany and the United Kingdom with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Andreas von Staden merges theories of rationalism and constructivism in innovative and sensible ways."—Laurence R. Helfer, Duke University

"Andreas von Staden empirically and theoretically identifies important trends in the way international and national institutions interact to mediate outcomes that affect important aspects of individual lives. His book is a welcome contribution to the literature on European judicial politics because it takes seriously the impact of European institutional judgements on domestic law and practices."—Lisa Conant, University of Denver

In Strategies of Compliance with the European Court of Human Rights, Andreas von Staden looks at the nature of human rights challenges in two enduring liberal democracies—Germany and the United Kingdom. Employing an ambitious data set that covers the compliance status of all European Court of Human Rights judgments rendered until 2015, von Staden presents a cross-national overview of compliance that illustrates a strong correlation between the quality of a country's democracy and the rate at which judgments have met compliance. Tracing the impact of violations in Germany and the United Kingdom specifically, he details how governments, legislators, and domestic judges responded to the court's demands for either financial compensation or changes to laws, policies, and practices.

Framing his analysis in the context of the long-standing international relations debate between rationalists who argue that actions are dictated by an actor's preferences and cost-benefit calculations, and constructivists, who emphasize the influence of norms on behavior, von Staden argues that the question of whether to comply with a judgment needs to be analyzed separately from the question of how to comply. According to von Staden, constructivist reasoning best explains why Germany and the United Kingdom are motivated to comply with the European Court of Human Rights judgments, while rationalist reasoning in most cases accounts for how these countries bring their laws, policies, and practices into sufficient compliance for their cases to be closed. When complying with adverse decisions while also exploiting all available options to minimize their domestic impact, liberal democracies are thus both norm-abiding and rational-instrumentalist at the same time—in other words, they choose their compliance strategies rationally within the normative constraint of having to comply with the Court's judgments.

Andreas von Staden teaches political science at the University of Hamburg.

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