Lunch seminar with Wiebe Hommes

Discovering the spirit of the Convention: the breakthrough of the ECHR in the Netherlands, 1967-1974

In recent years, interest in the historical development of the European Convention on Human Rights has seen sparked. One particular burning question is how the Convention, and with it the European Court of Human Rights, got ‘discovered’. This paper seeks to engage in that debate by focusing on two developments in the context of the Netherlands. First, it aims to show how, from a language of action groups, European human rights got connected to legal claims. Secondly, it aims to show how these domestic discoveries led to action in the Council of Europe, where the rise of individual complaints forced the Committee of Ministers to reflect upon the referral policy of the European Commission of Human Rights. By using a historical approach taking into account previously understudied archival materials from NGO’s and Governmental players, the paper focuses on the microlevel of engagement with European human rights to better understand the ‘breakthrough’ of European human rights in the early seventies.