Friday, 2 October 2015

Article 46 ECHR to the Rescue?

This week, both the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the President of the European Court of Human Rights have called upon the Committee of Ministers to start making use of the 'infringement' procedure of Article 46 ECHR, introduced as part of the reforms of Protocol 14. The procedure offers the possibility to refer to the Court an issue when implementation of a judgment is hindered by either questions of interpretation (para. 3) or a refusal to abide by a judgment (para. 4). Thus far this procedure has not yet been used.

The trigger was a new report (no. 8 of this kind) by rapporteur Klaas de Vries on recurring, systemic implementation problems in a number of state parties. As in previous yeas, a small group of countries (although admittedly some very populous ones) is responsible the large majority of the Court's backlog. Almost 80% of applications stems from just nine state parties where structural problems (poor detention conditions, ill-treatment by security forces and overly long domestic court procedures) lead to repetitive cases: Italy, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Greece, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. More generally, almost 11,000 of the Court's judgments remain unimplemented.

The recommendation of PACE on the issue can be found here and the statement of the Court's President here. In a resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly deplored "the delays in implementation and the lack of political will of certain States Parties to implement judgments of the Court." Close followers of Strasbourg may see this newest episode as another shot in a long series of similar calls. Only the emphasis on Article's 46 yet unused possibilities is relatively new - using it may be worth a try.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

New President of the Court Elected (and conference announcement)

Yesterday, The European Court of Human Rights elected amongst its midst a new President, the judge in respect of Italy, Guido Raimondi. He will take office as of 1 November, succeeding current President Dean Spielmann. Judge Raimondi has been working at the Court since 2010 and before that in the early 2000s in an ad hoc capacity. He was also, amongst others, active within the ILO. He wil be the Court's fourth president in four years - a much higher turnover than the average in the earlier decades of the Court's history. For more background information about judge Raimondi, please see the Court's press release. Congratulations to the new President!

On the same day two new vice-presidents were elected by the Court. As of 1 November, these will be: Işıl Karakaş (judge in respect of Turkey) and András Sajó (judge in respect of Hungary). In addition, two new section presidents were elected: Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska (judge in respect of Macedonia) and Angelika Nußberger (judge in respect of Germany). All of this taken together means that the Court will have an almost entirely new top layer, due to many experienced judges' mandates terminating. The institutional memory is of course also guarded by the registry, but to maintain a balance between judges and registry, this poses new challenges.
And something completely different: partly ECHR-related, event is a conference organized bon 22-23 October in Poland on 'Damages for violations of human rights - domestic, comparative and international perspectives'. More info, also on participating, can be found here

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The European Court of Human Rights Uncovered - Infographic

Much of the discussion in the past years around the European Court of Human Rights and about human rights in general in the media and even among some academics has been based on misperceptions coming from a lack of informed views. In order to counter these misperceptions, Adam Wagner and his team of the valued UK Human Rights Blog have launched a special website some time ago which elucidates key human rights issues by way of clear and appealing infographics. They have recently added a set on infographics entitled 'The European Court of Human Rights Uncovered' with a lot of easily accessible information. While mainly geared towards a UK audience, the country were some of the most vitriolic views about the Court have been uttered in the past years, it is of great interest to the whole of Europe. The page includes information about when countries joined the ECHR system, which countries do relatively well and which ones do not, and on how much the whole system costs. While the infographics have some very minor flaws (Kosovo does not exist yet on their map of Europe and Malta has invisibly disappeared into the Mediterranean), it is on the whole a very well done overview of some key ins-and-outs of the ECHR system. Well worth to take a look at and to spread further!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Workshop on ECHR in Tampere Finland

On October 22 and 23, the University of Tampere in Finland is organising a workshop on the European Court of Human Rights for doctoral students. The University would like to invite ten to fifteen doctoral students from different universities. The workshop is intended for students who are doing their research on the European Court's case-law. Doctoral students at different stages of their dissertation process are invited to share their experiences and discuss the specific questions typical to the ECHR-related research. There are prominent Finnish and foreign ECtHR scholars that are hosting the workshop sessions and sharing their good practices.

The workshop is organized by the Research Group of Public Law in co-operation with the Doctoral Network on Realizing Human Rights. For additional information please contact Jukka Viljanen, University of Tampere, e-mail: jukka.viljanen at . Please note: the deadline for registration is 11th September 2015

To register fill in the form here and send your abstract proposal related to the session themes to Heta Heiskanen (heta.heiskanen at Participants will be chosen based on their motivation and abstract proposal in the event that the number of registrations exceeds fifteen people.

This is the draft programme:

Day 1 Thursday 22 October

14.15-16.30 Opening lectures*
”Reconciliation between Human Rights and Development Policy”
Dr. Nina Nordström, Director, Unit for Human Rights Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs 
“Why the United Kingdom is so Uncomfortable with Strasbourg?”
Dr. Ed Bates, University of Leicester, author of the book ”Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights” 
“Linking European Consensus and International Human Rights Law”
Dr. Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, University of Liverpool, author of the book “European Consensus and the Legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights” 

* These lectures are arranged in co-operation with the Course of Fighting against human rights violations and social injustices

17.00-18.00 ECtHR Poster Café: participants are invited to provide posters introducing their research and its relation to the European Court of Human Rights to other participants.

19.00-21 Dinner. Informal gathering with some food and drinks to meet the participants

Day 2: Friday 23 October Doctoral Workshop 9.15-16.30

9.15-9.45 Key note presentation
“Some observations on the ECtHR and development of its doctrines: Interpretation in light of the object and purpose of the Convention” 
Dr. Matti Pellonpää, Former Judge of the ECtHR, Justice at the Supreme Administrative Court 

9.45-16.30 Workshop meetings with doctoral students and senior staff.

All participants are to present a 1000-1500 word presentation related to topics in one of the sessions. There are also prepared presentations on good practices from those who have done their dissertations.

9.45-11.30 Session I: “Living instrument” (Facilitators Ed Bates & Jukka Viljanen)
How the changes in a society should be reflected in the research on European Court of Human Rights? How the Brighton Declaration can be seen? Disguised or concealed change of interpretation?

11.30-12.15 Lunch Break

12.15-13.45 Session II: “Emerging consensus” (Facilitators Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou & Pauli Rautiainen)
What kind of different approaches there is within the ECtHR research? What is the role of academics in developing the doctrines? How should we understand key concepts e.g. margin of appreciation?

Coffee Break

14.15-15.30 Session III: “Effective and practical” (Facilitators Matti Pellonpää & Jukka Viljanen) 
What kind of practical and concrete issues should be acknowledged within ECtHR research? (Case selection etc.)
15.30-16.30 Final session. Summary discussion: What have we learned?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

New Registrar for the Court

Yesterday, the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, sitting in plenary, elected a new registrar, Mr Roderick Liddell. The registrar leads the legal and administrative support staff of the Court, comprising over 600 people. They process and prepare the complaints coming to the Court for adjudication by the Court's judges. Liddell will be the successor of Erik Fribergh, who has been the Court's registrar since November 2005. This is the short biography provided by the Court on Mr Liddell's previous experience:

"A British national, born in 1955 in the United Kingdom, Roderick Liddell studied law at Oxford University. He was lawyer-linguist at the Court of Justice of the European Communities from 1982 to 1987, translator with the Council of Europe (1987) and the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights (1988), Assistant to the President of the Court in 1995 and Legal and Executive Assistant to the President on the establishment of the single Court in 1998. He then served as Head of the Private Office of the President from 2000, Head of External Relations and Communication of the Court from 2003 to 2006 and was appointed Section Registrar in 2006 before taking up his present post of Director of Common Services of the Court."

Mr Liddel was elected for a five-year term, which will start on 1 December. In addition, yesterday, two judges, András Sajó (Hungary) and Luis López Guerra (Spain) have been elected Section Presidents. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

New Judges Elected in Strasbourg

Last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elected four new judges to the European Court of Human Rights. These elections followed the recommendations of the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. 

In respect of Armenia, Mr Armen Harutyunyan was elected. Mr Harutyunyan is the former Ombudsperson of Armenia and currently heads the Central Asia regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine.

In respect of Latvia, Mr Mārtiņš Mits as elected. Mr Mits is the current Prorector of Riga Graduate School of Law. Formerly, he was also a member of the Constitutional Rights Committee of the President of the Republic of Latvia.

In respect of Luxembourg, the newly elected judge is Mr Georges Ravarani. Mr Ravarani is currently both the President of the Luxembourg Administrative Court (the administrative supreme court) and the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Luxembourg.

In respect of Monaco, PACE elected Ms Stéphanie Mourou-Vikström. Ms Mourou-Vikström is the President of Children’s Tribunal and member of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ).

With these four new judges, a good mix of representatives from the judiciary, academia, and national and international human rights institutions will add their expertise to the Court's work.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Inaugural Lecture

After an hiatus, due to the preparation of my inaugural lecture last week, I am back at blogging. My inaugural lecture as professor of human rights at Utrecht University, dealing with human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective, is now available on the SIM website: 'Human Rights for Foxes and Hedgehogs' (for international readers: only the start and ending are in Dutch/French, but the core of the lecture is fully in English).

Monday, 8 June 2015

New Book on Fundamental Rights in the EU and ECHR

Sonia Morano-Foadi and Lucy Vickers, both based at Oxford Brookes University, have edited a new volume on the relationship between the Strasbourg and Luxembourg courts. It is entitled 'Fundamental Rights in the EU. A Matter for Two Courts' and has been published at Hart Publishing. This is the abstract:

This collection joins the new and expanding scholarship on the protection of fundamental rights in Europe and reflects on the relationship between the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The book questions whether the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty align the CJEU to the ECtHR's interpretation and methods, triggering different processes of institutionalisation within a coherent European system. These issues are explored through a contextual analysis of areas of law such as equality rights in employment law, citizenship and migration, internet law and access to justice. This volume includes perspectives from the scholarly community as well as practitioners, judges and European policy makers. It also examines the state of accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and considers the legal implications of the accession for the protection of the fundamental rights of EU citizens and individuals legally residing in Europe. 

Monday, 18 May 2015

New ECHR Publications

Please find below a new update of recent ECHR-related articles and other writings:

* Stephan Hollenberg, 'The Diverging Approaches of the European Court of Human Rights in the Cases of Nada and Al-Dulimi', International and Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 64, no. 2 (2015).  

* Paul Johnson, '“The Choice of Wording must be Regarded as Deliberate”: Same-sex Marriage and Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights', European Law Reviewvol. 40 (2015) pp. 207-214.

* Hana Müllerová, 'Environment Playing Short-handed: Margin of Appreciation in Environmental Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights', Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, vol. 24, no. 1 (2015).

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

New Book on ECHR and European Consensus

Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Surrey), who has guest posted on this blog before, has just published a new book on one of the areas in which he is a specialist, the notion of European consensus in the case-law of the Court. The book, entitled 'European Consensus and the Legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights'was published with Cambridge University Press. It does not just build on jurisprudence, but includes findings from a large numbers of interviews with the ECHR judges themselves. This is the abstract:

In order to be effective, international tribunals should be perceived as legitimate adjudicators. European Consensus and the Legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights provides in-depth analyses on whether European consensus is capable of enhancing the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Focusing on the method and value of European consensus, it examines the practicalities of consensus identification and application and discusses whether State-counting is appropriate in human rights adjudication. With over 30 interviews from judges of the ECtHR and qualitative analyses of the case law, this book gives readers access to firsthand and up-to-date information and provides an understanding of how the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg interprets the European Convention on Human Rights.