Counterpedagogy, Sovereignty, and Migration at the European Court of Human Rights

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What happens to gains in human rights protections if states learn how to use international human rights courts to evade future scrutiny? This article centers on Hirsi Jamaa v. Italy, a landmark 2012 migration case at the European Court of Human Rights. Rights advocates characterized the case as a legal victory for migrants. Subsequent shifts in Italian bordering and policing on the high seas demonstrate unintended consequences of this litigation. While Italy implemented the judgment, compliance went hand in hand with state efforts to undermine rights protections in practice. Italy carved out new areas of discretion among maritime police, human rights advocates, and migrants on the high seas. Ultimately, assessing the impact of case law requires looking not only at judgments and at execution. It requires attention to subsequent policy environments and policing efforts that may violate the spirit, if not the letter, of human rights obligations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-539
Number of pages22
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2 2021
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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