Economic, Social and Cultural Rights During Crisis in Cyprus: The Interplay Between Domestic and External Normative Systems

Constantinos Kombos, Athena Herodotou


Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) rights have been present and active in the Cypriot legal order from the moment of its constitutional genesis. Due to the special relationship between the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the judiciary has adopted a unique approach when interpreting the Constitution; it has been willing to engage into a comparative juridical analysis and to rely on the ECHR and the findings of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECtHR). Through this nexus with the ECHR and the streamlined approach with the ECtHR, the legal system of Cyprus has been progressive in placing social and economic rights – and to a lesser extent cultural rights – in a secure position. This traditional approach of the Cypriot courts was called into question by the 2011-2016 economic crisis, which challenged the interplay between domestic and external normative systems. The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of the recent economic crisis on the protection of ESC rights and the change in the balance between domestic and normative systems. The analysis concludes that the protection of ESC rights under the Cypriot Constitution, as formed by Cypriot case law, has been substantive and effective, while positively influenced by the extensive deployment of the comparative method. That long-standing approach has been challenged by the economic crisis and it seems that the extrovert judicial viewpoint is now partly reconsidered. The Supreme Court has indicated, albeit in specific instances, its willingness to disregard guidance from external influences and to focus instead on the idea that national constitutional protection can and should exceed that of the ECHR.


Cyprus; ECHR; Economic Crisis; Right to Property; Social and Cultural Rights

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