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The interpretation and application of international human rights conventions is an especially delicate task. Although the international courts charged with interpreting them have, within their sphere of competence, the function of protecting human rights against possible state interferences, the exercise of their jurisdictional role is impossible without a constant reconciliation of elements and values that may be in tension. These courts must exercise great skill to accommodate citizens’ expectations of rights protection, the will of the states, either collective or individual, and democratic considerations in social settings that are plural and changing.


This article, translated into English by Benjamin Fryer, was written in the framework of the research project DER2010-21331-C02 (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation).