We have now arrived at the end of a long journey through the Court's positive obligations case law. All in all, the picture emerging from the present study is a mixed one. After a hesitant start in the Belgian Linguistics Case, the Court has, from the case of Marckx onwards, developed a vast jurisprudence in the area of positive obligations, enabling it to scrutinise State conduct affecting human rights in a way that was unimaginable under the classical liberal model. However, we have also seen that the positive/negative obligations dichotomy remains deeply rooted in the classical liberal model, the Court still constructing positive obligations as an “exceptional” kind of obligation as opposed to negative obligations which purportedly are “inherent” in the Convention provisions, which has moreover repercussions on the legal methodology applied in these respective areas. The central argument of the present study comes down to the fact that the positive/negative obligations dichotomy as constructed by the Court fails to fully grasp how the positive State may cause harm in contemporary societies, and should consequently be adapted.
In this final chapter, I will first briefly summarise the development of this argument, highlighting the most important findings of the present study. Subsequently, I will return to the criticisms voiced against the Court's positive obligations case law discussed in the introduction, and see whether the proposed legal-methodological changes would meet the most pervasive criticisms. Finally, I will make some suggestions for future research.
SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
Th e aims of the present dissertation were threefold: analytical, critical and normative. As far as the analytical aim was concerned, the present dissertation has brought more clarity to the Court's application of the concept of positive obligations. In the second chapter, I have broadly sketched the Court's positive obligations case law, making the diversity of positive obligations more comprehensible, using the broad analytical clusters of substantive vs. procedural positive obligations, horizontal vs. vertical ones, and positive obligations requiring the putting in place of a legal and administrative framework vs. positive obligations of an ad hoc nature.