Cross-fertilisation, clarity and consistency at an overburdened European court of human rights – The case of the discrimination grounds under article 14 ECHR

Oddný Mjöll Arnardóttir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) has identified how recent case law on its scope ratione materiae seems unclear and conflicting, and how this could indicate a change of approach whereby some discrimination grounds would be excluded from protection altogether. After describing this case law against the background of settled doctrine, this article moves on to exhibit how it is also accompanied by an undercurrent towards a subtle change in analytical approach, which seems to be taking hold irrespective of whether a clear narrowing of the scope of article 14 ratione materiae will take place. The article is critical of these trends, and asks why the changes described have occurred at this point in time in the life of the Convention. Placing current developments in context, it suggests three key explanatory factors related to the reform of the Strasbourg Court and calls for the gradual convergence between the Strasbourg and Luxembourg jurisprudence. In conclusion it is argued that the developments discussed exemplify the pitfalls of the current process of reengineering the European system for the protection of human rights, and how each step the Strasbourg Court takes in pursuance of the aims of the reform process must be accompanied by careful judicial reflection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-242
Number of pages23
JournalNordic Journal of Human Rights
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Icelandic Research Fund under Grant No. 120635022. The author would like to thank Lísa Margrét Sigurðardóttir for assistance with case law analysis. *E-mail: 1A Føllesdal, B Peters, and G Ulfstein, ‘Conclusions’, in A Føllesdal, B Peters and G Ulfstein (eds), Constituting Europe: The European Court of Human Rights in a National, European and Global Context (CUP 2013) 393. 2Lord Woolf et al, ‘Review of the Working Methods of the European Court of Human Rights’ (December 2005). (accessed 12

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.

Other keywords

  • Admissibility ratione materiae
  • Crossfertilisation
  • Discrimination grounds
  • European convention on human rights
  • Reform of the European court of human Rights


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