1. Introduction : human rights theory and the challenge of the ECHR 2. Ethical theories of human rights and their practice-independence 3. Political theories and their practice-dependence 4. Theorizing human rights : a constructivist proposal 5. The ECHR in historical perspective 6. The normativity of ECHR law 7. Interpretation at the ECtHR : setting the stage 8. Balancing and justification at the ECtHR : the pivotal concept of "democratic necessity" 9. Conclusion : constructing the normative foundations of the ECHR.