Maria Giulia Bernardini

Vulnerability and Disability in Strasbourg: The «Vulnerable Groups Approach» in Practice

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The essay analyzes how the European Court of Human Rights deals with the relationship between vulnerability and disability. To this aim, the Author briefly reconstructs the theoretical debate concerning the correlation between the two concepts. She then focuses on the jurisprudence of the Court concerning «vulnerable groups», with the aim of evaluating if there are connections between the theoretical field and the Court's jurisprudence. After that, she analyses the case-law where the Court specifically addresses the relationship between disability and vulnerability, to examine which kind of role vulnerability plays in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Finally, she evaluates if the Court's use of vulnerability contributes to the fulfillment of the theoretical promise of a paradigm shift based on vulnerability.


  • Vulnerability
  • Disability
  • Vulnerable Groups
  • European Court of Human Rights
  • Discrimination


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