Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2021


Kovarik, Cole. 2021. "Strategic Litigation and the Evolution of Regional Human Rights Norms: Cases from Germany and The Netherlands." Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Cole Kovarik 2021.


This study seeks to fill gaps in our understanding of how private actors participate in international human rights politics by examining civil society involvement in European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) cases against long-standing democracies. Descriptive analysis of an exhaustive data set of instances of civil society organization (CSO) participation in ECtHR cases against Germany and The Netherlands is complemented by a comparative case study analysis of networks of organizations that mobilized around German and Dutch cases concerning Articles 8 (right to privacy) and 10 (freedom of expression). The data suggest that civil society organizations not only appear before the ECtHR for financial or moral redress when rights violations have occurred, but also that some CSOs use strategic litigation to pursue their sector policy preferences when the opportunity for an impactful legal development arises.