Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies

It is a principle of international law that protection of human rights should be carried out by national governments. National remedies are viewed as more effective than international ones because they are easier to access, proceed more quickly and require fewer resources than making a claim before an international body. Access to international enforcement mechanisms is seen as a last resort, after the State has failed to correct the violation or to carry out justice.

Before submitting a complaint to any international body, such as the United Nations or the European Court of Human Rights, the individual or NGO must first attempt to remedy the violation using national law.

Exhaustion of domestic remedies requires use of all available procedures to seek protection from future human rights violations and to obtain justice for past abuses. Local remedies can range from making a case in court to lodging a complaint with local police.

A complaint to an international body should include proof that domestic remedies have been exhausted, including information about any legal proceedings that took place in the country.

There are limited exceptions to the requirement that domestic remedies be exhausted. International law recognizes that domestic remedies may be unavailable, ineffective (i.e. a sham proceeding) or unreasonably delayed. In these cases, it is not necessary to first address the national mechanisms if it can be convincingly demonstrated that there are, in effect, no local remedies available.


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