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A Look at the ECHR’s Democratic Society : Secessionist Movements and Human Rights

There are a number of secessionist movements in Europe today and each of them has met with varying degrees of contestation by the respective central governments. The present paper aims to investigate what, if anything, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) could contribute to secessionist movements pursuing their aims or, conversely, to limiting responses to secessionist movements. It makes the case that territorial claims can be thought of and treated as primary political in nature. A promising avenue for protection, or so the paper argues, is the freedom of association guaranteed in article 11 ECHR. The paper accordingly analyses the case law on restrictions on political parties. Finally, it argues that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in its case law conflates democracy with liberal institutions and as such creates limitations on the protection afforded to secessionist movements that may not be justified.

Keywords: Secession, democracy, liberalism, territory, Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights



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