Lunch Seminar with Silvia Steininger

Can Courts Communicate? Communication Practices of the European and Inter-American Human Rights Regimes in an Age of Backlash


How, why, and to whom are human rights courts communicating? In this talk, I will present a draft paper which investigates how the European and Inter-American human rights regimes have developed communication practices to create loyalty. I argue that communication departments exercise essential functions, in particular by creating diffuse support for international courts. Based on classical works of Albert O. Hirschman and David Easton, I identify how international courts can create loyalty through, first of all, fostering awareness about the existence of the court among the general public, and secondly, the establishment of supportive communities around the court through shared practices. By drawing on semi-structured interviews, the comparative analysis of the European and Inter-American human rights regime illustrates both the professionalization of communication actors and the evolution of specific communication strategies in times of backlash.


Silvia Steininger is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Goethe University Frankfurt. She holds graduate degrees in public international law (University of Amsterdam) and political science (University of Heidelberg) and is a lecturer for human rights and public international law in universities in Germany and France. In her PhD project, she investigates the consequences of state backlash upon the institutional resilience of the European and Inter-American human rights regimes. Previous research stays led her to the European University Institute and the Department for the Execution of ECHR Judgments in Strasbourg. More generally, she is interested in theoretical, critical and empirical questions relating to the authority of international institutions, human rights, investment, and dispute settlement bodies. For more info, see here:

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