Thursday, 20 October 2016

Two New Judges Elected

Last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) elected two new judges to the European Court of Human Rights. In respect of Azerbaijan Mr Lətif Hüseynov was elected. And in respect of Macedonia, the assembly elected Mr Jovan Ilievski. Both have been elected for a term of nine years.

Lətif Hüseynov beta the tow other contenders by a large majority. He is currently professor of international law at Baku State University, teaching amongst others on the ECHR. He wrote his PhD thesis on 'State Responsibility for Violations of International Human Rights Obligations'. Both in 2005 and 2010, he already was an ad hoc judge at the European Court. In addition, he was until last year President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), of which he had been a member since 2004. He is also a Member of the Venice commission. He is thus no stranger to Strasbourg and experienced in the wider context in which the Court works.

Jovan Ilievski comes from legal practice in criminal law and is currently the Head of the Basic Public Prosecution Office for Organised Crime and Corruption of Macedonia. He is also a member of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) within the Council of Europe.

As has sometimes happened in the past, the practical application of the selection procedure, shows that the Assembly is taking its work very seriously. For example, two earlier lists of three candidates submitted by the Azeri government were rejected by the Assembly for not complying with the selection guidelines. And at its last session, the Assembly rejected the lists of both Albania and Hungary, because the national selection procedures were not in line with Council of Europe standards.

Finally, a small note on the fact that - no matter how qualified these new judges are obviously - it is a pity that the unequal male-female balance within the Court is not improved through this. For a wider movement within international law to achieve gender parity in international tribunals, please read this blog post by Cecilia Bailliet on EJILTalk! Hopefully more upcoming elections of new judges in January in Strasbourg will help to change this.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

PhD Workshop on the Role of the European Court of Human Rights

On the 22nd to 24th February 2017, the Research Group of Constitutional and European Law at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona will be organising a workshop entitled 'The role of the European Court of Human Rights in the Community of Final Interpreters'. The international workshop will enable PhD researchers the opportunity to present their work. The full programme can be found here. This is what the organisers say about the event: 

"The Research Group of Constitutional and European Law at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona is organizing an international workshop for talented PhD students from the universities across the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe. Our University would like to invite fifteen doctoral students who are involved in the research on the ECtHR's case-law. The selected students, at different stages of their dissertation process, are expected to present the salient topics of their research. This is a unique opportunity for the students to share their academic experience with other colleagues and to get feedback on some specific questions typical to the ECHR-related research from the prominent local and international scholars. The event will be held in Barcelona on 22nd-24th February 2017.

In order to participate in the selection process, please send your abstract proposal (max. 300 words) and a motivation letter to echr.workshop at The deadline for submitting proposals is 27th November 2016. Selected participants will be informed by 1st December. Participants will be chosen based on their motivation and abstract proposal. The participation at the workshop is free of charge; the students are expected to pay their own travel and accommodation expenses; we will provide some useful information about the convenient accommodation spots in Barcelona. Our University will cover the costs of the dinner at the restaurant the first day of the event and will invite all participants for lunch on the following two days. There are 5 monetary contributions available of up to 300 Euro each for students from eligible countries in order to facilitate their participation at the event.

The workshop will start on 22nd February at 15:30 with a conference open to the general public. Among the prominent local scholars will be a contribution from Prof. Steven Greer from the University of Bristol. After the conference there will be a space for a Poster Session in which the participant PhD students will have an opportunity to present their research in a schematic manner. Afterwards, an informal gathering with all the participants and a dinner is planned at a restaurant.  

On the next day, two working sessions are scheduled, in which the doctoral students would present their short contributions. The sessions will start with a key note presentation prepared by the local and international facilitators. In the morning of 24th February, there will be a third working session and a conclusive discussion. After the lunch break we will attend a final conference with contributions from the Justice Luis López Guerra and Prof. Geir Ulfstein. Please see the program attached.

We hope to see you soon in Barcelona!"

Monday, 17 October 2016

New Video on the European Court of Human Rights

Today, the European Court of Human Rights has launched its new short film (length around 15 minutes) on its work on the website. This is what the Court itself says about this new, very improved version of its short documentary about its work:

"A new film presenting the European Court of Human Rights has just been produced. Aimed at a wide audience, the film explains how the Court works, describes the challenges faced by it and shows the scope of its activity through examples from the case-law. The film is currently available in French and English, but will be issued in other official languages of the member States of the Council of Europe."

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

New Book on Positive and Negative Obligations under the ECHR

Laurens Lavrysen (Ghent University) has just published a new book on the classic concept of positive obligations under the ECHR. The book is published with Intersentia Publishers and is entitled 'Human Rights in a Positive State. Rethinking the Relationship between Positive and Negative Obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights'. It is based on his PhD research for which he was awarded his degree earlier this year. This is the abstract of the book: 

"The European Court of Human Rights has long abandoned the view that human rights merely impose obligations of restraint on State authorities (so-called negative obligations). In addition, States are under positive obligations to take steps to actively protect and ensure the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. While the concept of positive obligations has become increasingly important in the jurisprudence of the European Court, it remains relatively under-explored in the literature. This book goes beyond the existing scholarship by analytically, critically and normatively engaging with the Court’s positive obligations case law in a comprehensive and in-depth manner.

The book begins by providing an overview of the Court’s jurisprudence in this area. Building upon this overview, it brings to the fore the legal methodological consequences attached by the Court to the labels of positive and negative obligations. It moreover critically examines how the Court constructs the distinction between positive and negative obligations, building upon the underlying distinctions between public authorities and private entities, on the one hand, and State action and inaction, on the other. The central argument made in this volume is that in a positive State, in which the authorities have affirmatively intervened in so many areas, it has become increasingly difficult to draw a baseline to properly distinguish between action and inaction. Finally, the author makes suggestions for legal methodological change. This book will prove to be highly valuable for any practitioner or academic interested in the law of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Thursday, 29 September 2016

New Book on Parliaments and the ECHR

Alice Donald and Philip Leach of Middlesex University have published a new book on the linkages between national legislatives and the Strasbourg system: Parliaments and the European Court of Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2016). Based on years of research, it includes five country case studies on the extent to which parliaments contribute to (or hamper) the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This is the abstract: 

The European system of human rights protection faces institutional and political pressures which threaten its very survival. These institutional pressures stem from the backlog of applications before the European Court of Human Rights, the large number of its judgments that remain unimplemented, and the political pressures that arise from sustained attacks on the Court's legitimacy and authority, notably from politicians and jurists in the United Kingdom. 

This book addresses the theme which lies at the heart of these pressures: the role of national parliaments in the implementation of judgments of the Court. It combines theoretical and empirical insights into the role of parliaments in securing domestic compliance with the Court's decisions, and provides detailed investigation of five European states with differing records of human rights compliance and parliamentary mobilisation: Ukraine, Romania, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.

How far are parliaments engaged in implementation, and how far should they be? Do parliaments advance or hinder human rights compliance? Is it ever justifiable for parliaments to defy judgments of the Court? And how significant is the role played by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe? Drawing on the fields of international law, international relations, political science, and political philosophy, the book argues that adverse human rights judgments not only confer obligations on parliamentarians but also create opportunities for them to develop influential interpretations of human rights and enhance their own democratic legitimacy. It makes an authoritative contribution to debate about the future of the European and other supranational human rights mechanisms and the broader relationship between democracy, human rights, and legitimate authority.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Book Launch on ECHR and Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Next month, the new book of Paul Johnson (University of York) entitled 'Going to Strasbourg. An Oral History of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights' (Oxford University Press, just published this month), will be launched at a special event in London. This is the book's abstract;

'Since its inception, the European Convention on Human Rights has been a beacon of hope to gay men and lesbians in Europe. Going to Strasbourg: An Oral History of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights provides a comprehensive account of how individuals in the United Kingdom have utilized the Convention, by way of making applications to its organs in Strasbourg in order to challenge sexual orientation discrimination.

Combining an exhaustive analysis of Strasbourg case law with nineteen unique oral histories of applicants, legal professionals, and campaigners, this book is the definitive history of the role that 'going to Strasbourg' has played in eradicating discrimination and establishing legal equality on the grounds of sexual orientation in the UK.' 

The book launch will feature, apart from the author, short talks by Lord Cashman and a number of former applicants in Strasbourg. For more information on attending this special event, see here.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

New ECHR Readings

More new ECHR readings, as the start of the academic and work year is nearing:

The June issue of the Human Rights Law Review (Volume 16, Issue 2, 2016) includes:

*Sandra Fredman, 'Emerging from the Shadows: Substantive Equality and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights', pp. 273-301.
* Dinah Shelton, 'Significantly Disadvantaged? Shrinking Access to the European Court of Human Rights', pp. 303-322. 

The September issue of the same journal includes:

* Saïla Ouald Chaib, 'Procedural Fairness as a Vehicle for Inclusion in the Freedom of Religion Jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court',  pp. 483-510. 
* Eleni Polymenopoulou, 'Does One Swallow Make a Spring? Artistic and Literary Freedom at the European Court of Human Rights', pp. 511-539. 
* Andrew Dyer, 'Irreducible Life Sentences: What Difference have the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Kingdom Human Rights Act Made?', pp. 541-584.

Other readings: 

* Nikos Vogiatzis, The Admissibility Criterion under Article 35(3)(b) ECHR: A 'Significant Disadvantage' to Human Rights Protection?', International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 65, Issue 01 (2016) pp 185-211.

* Miles Jackson has posted on ssrn: 'Freeing Soering: The ECHR, State Complicity in Torture, and Jurisdiction' (European Journal of International Law, forthcoming). This is the abstract:

Over the last ten years, there have been numerous cases of ECHR-state party complicity in torture by foreign states. Some of these cases have been entirely extraterritorial – that is, the victim is never within the territory of the complicit state. Applying the orthodox rules of attribution in international law and the current understanding of the jurisdiction under Article 1 ECHR, these cases of extraterritorial complicity would seem not to lead to the responsibility of the complicit state under the Convention. In other words, the ECHR allows states to facilitate acts of torture abroad where they could not do so at home. 
This is an unprincipled gap in the protections provided by the Convention.This article argues (i) that this unprincipled gap may be overcome by re-imagining the rule in Soering as a preventive complicity rule and extending it to other forms of complicity in torture, and (ii) that such a re-imagination is supported by doctrine and principles deeply embedded in the case law of the European Court. An expansive interpretation of Article 1 ECHR to capture cases of state complicity in extraterritorial torture would be justified.

* Spanier, Benny; Issi Dorron, Israel and Milman-Silvan, Faina have posted on ssrn: ‘In Course of Change? Soft Law, Elder Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights’, Law and Inequality 34(1), pp. 55-86. This is the abstract: 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is a significant human rights tribunal. The European convention on Human rights (ECHR) is the only applicable instrument for the ECtHR and there is no explicit expression of older persons’ rights there .One of the key international instruments aimed at promoting the rights of older persons are “soft law”. Up to day, no study has attempted to explore the usage of “soft law” in cases brought before the ECtHR on issues concerning the rights of older persons.
The question is to what extent is the ECtHR aware of the soft law that addresses rights of older persons? Does the wealth of soft law on the matter of older persons permeate the Court? Allegedly, these norms could be used by older persons or by the Court when they negotiate and determine the rights of older persons.
A total of 1,503 judgments were delivered to older persons from the 12, 680 overall judgments at the period between January 1st 2000 and January 1st 2011 (11 years in total). These 1,503 judgments constituted the “study population” and the database for this study. Basic descriptive analysis was performed on this population. Due to limited time and resources, we used stratified random sampling of 226 judgments, which were fully analyzed for this study. 
The study’s findings show that, with very high probability, no soft law legal Instruments that address older persons were mentioned in the ECtHR’s judgments and claims. As a rule, the court has made sparse use of soft law (not of older persons) in adjudicating cases that concern the older persons. When the judges do turn to soft law in those cases, it is for general topics rather than specific issues of aging or older person's rights.
The study demonstrates the usefulness of a recommendation created by the Council of Europe itself such as the recommendation adopted on 2014 to promote the human rights of older persons. It is encouraging that the ECtHR is not blind to soft law, and it makes use of it. The effort required now is to increase awareness and transition to practical use of this law. The struggle over elder rights needs to include judicious entry to the Court. Success in using soft law before the ECtHR would constitute realization of the potential of soft law that has yet to be realized.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

New Book on Non-Refoulement under ECHR and CAT

In this quiet Summer time, the topic of forced migration remains topical as ever. Thus, the publication of a new book on non-refoulement is very welcome. Dr Eman Hamdan (University of Geneva) has written 'The Principle of Non-Refoulement under the ECHR and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment' with Brill Publishers. This is the abstract: 

'In this study, Eman Hamdan examines the protection against refoulement under the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, with the aim to determine which of those Conventions affords better protection for international protection seekers.

Hamdan explores the scope and content of the principle of non-refoulement under both Conventions and the application of the principle to the immigration control measures and the extraordinary rendition operations.

The author provides a comprehensive and comparative analysis of the case-law of both the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Committee against Torture on the procedural and substantive aspects of the principle of non-refoulement, in order to help practitioners to determine which of these human rights treaty bodies is more favorable for their specific non-refoulement case.

This book was chosen to participate in the Professor Walther Hug Prize 2014-2015, which is a prize for the best legal researches in Switzerland for each academic year.'

Thursday, 7 July 2016

New Book on Criticism of the Court

Patricia Popelier, Sarah Lambrecht, and Koen Lemmens have just published an edited volume entitled 'Criticism of the European Court of Human Rights.  Shifting the Convention system: Counter-Dynamics and the National and EU Level.' The book was published in Intersentia's law and Cosmopolitan Values Series. The full table of contents can be found here. This is the abstract:

"For some time now, the European Court of Human Rights is under substantial pressure. From a case overload crisis it stumbled into a legitimacy crisis with regard to certain countries. This should be taken seriously, since scholars warn that institutions with eroding legitimacy risk demise or reform. The goal of this volume is to explore how widespread this critical attitude of the European Court of Human Rights really is. It also assesses to what extent such criticism is being translated in strategies at the political level or at the judicial level and brings about concrete changes in the dynamics between national and European fundamental rights protection. The book is topical and innovative, as these questions have so far remained largely unexplored, especially cross-nationally.

Far from focusing exclusively on those voices that are currently raised so loud, conclusions are based on comparative in-depth reports, covering fifteen Contracting Parties and the EU.

With contributions of Olgun Akbulut, Tilmann Altwicker, Katarzyna Blay-Grabarczyk, Anna Gamper, Janneke Gerards, Krystyna Kowalik-Bańczyk, Sarah Lambrecht, Koen Lemmens, Lubomir Majerčík, Giuseppe Martinico, Roger Masterman, Aaron Matta, Christophe Maubernard, Armen Mazmanyan, Katharina Pabel, Eszter Polgári, Patricia Popelier, Clara Rauchegger, Michael Reiertsen and Henrik Wenander."

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

New Court Videos

The Registry has put new training videos in its series 'COURTalks-disCOURs' online. The videos were made together with the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals Programme (HELP) of the Council of Europe. The videos of around 25 minutes give an overrview of the Court's jurispriudence in two thematic areas:

The videos are now available in English and French. In the near future, subtitles in many more languages will be provided. The videos are accompanied by full written versions of the spoken text in the videos.