Tuesday, 28 March 2023

New Edition of 'Law of the European Convention on Human Rights'

David Harris (Emeritus Professor at the University of Nottingham), Michael O'Boyle (Former Deputy Registrar at the European Court of Human Rights), Ed Bates (Associate Professor at the University of Leicester) and Carla M. Buckley (International Human Rights Lawyer) have just published the fifth edition of their textbook entitled Law of the European Convention on Human Rights. The textbook provides a comprehensive guide to the Convention, article by article. Here is a brief description:

''This seminal text offers a comprehensive account of the case law of the ECHR and its underlying principles. It provides a guide to decisions under the Convention and its protocols, article by article, as well as explaining the history and likely development of the law.

  • Critically examines the substantive content of each of the basic rights of the Convention and successive Protocols, as well as explaining the history and likely development of the law
  • Sets the Convention in its international context by examining its relationship with national and European Union law
  • Fully explores the extent of the Convention's influence on the legal development of the contracting states, and reveals exactly how such a powerful authority has been achieved and maintained''

Thursday, 23 March 2023

The Hague Civil Society Declaration on Council of Europe Reform

Earlier this month, on 28 February and 1 March, the first ever Council of Europe Civil Society Summit took place in The Hague, the very city in which 75 years earlier one of the foundational moments of the European movement happened, eventually leading to the creation of the Council of Europe (as well as to the precursors of the European Union). This year's summit gathered civil society representatives from across Europe to come together around a unified message directed at the Council of Europe's member states. The latter will gather in Reykjavik on 16 and 17 May of this year, for the fourth ever summit of heads of state and government. The previous one took place in Warsaw as long ago as 2005, when Europe and the world looked quite different in terms of rule of law, democracy and human rights. The Council of Europe is, without exaggeration, at a crossroads and many would say in an identity and effectiveness crisis, after the ousting of its largest member last year and with the protection of its three core aims under heavy pressure.

In order to reflect the voice of civil society, from human rights defenders to NHRIs, and from human rights NGOs to youth movements, a special text was  developed in The Hague (this author had the privilege to be one of the rapporteurs in the meetings). The text of the Hague Civil Society Declaration on Council of Europe Reform is now available online. This version includes extensive explanatory notes that provide background to the proposals made. It includes a whole section dedicated to structuraal improvements of the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Declaration is now open for endorsements by civil society organisations and individual experts, including academics, around Europe (meaning that they support the overall direction of the proposals and the sense of urgency behind them), both those who have participated in the Civil Society Summit and those who have not. If you are interested in endorsing and supporting the Declaration, you can write to css@cure-campaign.org . A list of endorsements will be posted (and regularly updated) here

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Webinar on Climate Change and the ECHR

On 23 March, Columbia Law School's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law is organizing a webinar entitled 'The Climate Docket at the European Court of Human Rights'. The webinar will discuss the cases on climate change currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights, and the main legal issues raised by these cases. 

Here is a description of the webinar:

''In yet another manifestation of the “turn to rights” in climate litigation, a dozen cases seeking to spell out Member States’ obligations with regard to climate change mitigation and adaptation under the European Convention on Human Rights have been brought before the European Court of Human Rights in recent years. These cases raise complex novel issues of human rights law. They are likely to make an indelible mark on the international legal landscape, notwithstanding their impact on ongoing domestic climate litigation efforts and, overall, on climate policies across Europe and beyond. To shed light on these developments, the Sabin Center’s Peer Review Network on Global Climate Litigation is hosting a half-day Conference on March 23, 2023. The Conference will include a general overview of the “Climate Docket” of the European Court of Human Rights as well as a detailed discussion of the three cases to be heard by the Court at the end of March 2023 (Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other StatesCarême v. France, and KlimaSeniorinnen v Switzerland). Furthermore, we will debate the variety of legal issues they involve, including the complainants’ victim status under the Convention, the attribution of responsibility, the legal standing of NGOs, the justiciability of “climate harm,” and extraterritoriality. We will hear from a wide range of perspectives thanks to the participation of leading academics, practitioners, activists, and members of the international judiciary.''

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Summer School on Council of Europe

The School of Law and Social Justice of the University of Liverpool will be organising a dedicated summer school on the Law of the Council of Europe. It will take place between 2 and 14 July and is geared towards the postgraduate level, for students, scholars and practitioners. The lecturers include not only academics, but also current and former judges of the European Court of Human Rights and current and former parliamentarians from PACE as well as officials from the Council of Europe. This is the abstract of the contents:

'Europe is at the crossroads. Its future, its stability, and prosperity depend on how effectively it will respond to the crucial – old and new – challenges that it is facing. This summer school will bring together key decision-makers from the Council of Europe and leading scholars to discuss the ways in which the Council of Europe system can stand up to these challenges. These include rising illiberal democracies, the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the consequent expulsion of the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe, but also climate change, public health emergencies, such as the one caused by COVID-19, and economic crises. The outcomes of the Summits of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Reykjavik, Iceland will also be discussed.'

The deadline for applications is 14 April 2023. You can apply here.

Monday, 13 March 2023

New Issue ECHR Law Review

The first issue of the year of the ECHR Law Review has just been published (vol. 4, issue 1). The issue contains one editorial note, one guest editorial, two research articles and a book review. The contributions discuss such topics as the role of the president of the European Court of Human Rights, the right of access to a court, hate speech and assisted suicide. This is the table of contents:

*Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Role of the President of the European Court of Human Rights'

*Robert Spano, 'Primus Inter Pares, but More Pares than Primus! – Recollections of a Former President of the European Court of Human Rights'

*Mathieu Leloup, 'Not Just a Simple Civil Servant: The Right of Access to a Court of Judges in the Recent Case Law of the ECtHR'

*Alessio Sardo, 'Hate Speech: A Pragmatic Assessment of the European Court of Human Rights’ Jurisprudence'

*Daria Sartori, 'Stevie Martin, Assisted Suicide and the European Convention on Human Rights'

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Webinar on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights

On 13 March, SWPS University, Riga Graduate School of Law and the University of Cologne are organizing a webinar on the future of the European Court of Human Rights. The webinar is part of a series of webinars entitled ''Road to Reykjavik. Chances and Challenges to the Council of Europe''. As the Council of Europe is preparing for the 4th Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government in Reykjavik in May this year, these webinar series will be discussing some pressing issues facing the Council of Europe. 

Here is a description of the opening webinar:

''The European Court of Human Rights, located in Strasbourg, France, is an international judicial body established under the European Convention on Human Rights. Its mandate is to protect and enforce the civil and political rights of individuals in Europe, and it is widely considered one of the most significant human rights courts in the world. However, the Court is currently facing a crisis due to a range of factors, including the war in Ukraine, Russia's expulsion from the Council of Europe in March 2022, and the disregard of the Court's judgments by member states that are embracing democracy based on majority dictate and authoritarianism. These circumstances have raised questions about the Court's future.

The first webinar of the "Road to Reykjavik" series will address these issues, starting with a keynote speech by Professor Angelika Nußberger, a former European Court of Human Rights judge. After her lecture, our discussants, Anastasija Kaplane, LL.M, representing the Riga Graduate School of Law and Filip Cyuńczyk, Ph.D. / Assistant Professor from SWPS University's Faculty of Law in Warsaw will provide critical commentaries. The meeting will be moderated by Professor Adam Bodnar, a renowned expert on human rights and Dean of the Faculty of Law in Warsaw.''

Friday, 3 March 2023

New Thematic Factsheet on the Right to Free Elections

Today, the Council of Europe's Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights has issued a new thematic factsheet on the right to free elections. Here is a brief description:

''The European Court has underlined that democracy constitutes a fundamental element of the “European public order”. The right to free elections guaranteed under Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights is crucial to establishing and maintaining the foundations of an effective and meaningful democracy governed by the rule of law and is accordingly of prime importance to the Convention system. The Convention does not lay down an obligation of abstention or non-interference, as with most civil and political rights, but one of adoption by the state, as the ultimate guarantor of pluralism, of positive measures to guarantee democratic legislative elections. The Court has established that the right to free elections also implies individual rights, including the right to vote and to stand for election. The present factsheet provides examples of general and individual measures reported by states in the context of the execution of the European Court’s judgments concerning: the adoption of legislative measures to ensure voting rights; restrictions on the right to vote; prisoners’ voting rights; electoral registration of candidate members of parliament (MPs) and of political parties; and regulation of electoral disputes including effective remedies.''

Sunday, 26 February 2023

New Textbook: Fundamental Rights, The European and International Dimension

A new textbook entitled Fundamental Rights: The European and International Dimension has been published, edited by our Utrecht University colleague Janneke Gerards. The textbook discusses the different European and International legal instruments that regulate the protection of fundamental rights in Europe, including the ECHR. It provides an overview of the different requirements set by these instruments. Here is the abstract: 

'In Europe, fundamental rights have come to be regulated by an increasing number of legal instruments, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and international treaties. It is not always easy to understand what requirements are set in these different instruments and how they interrelate. This textbook therefore provides an integrated and systematic overview of the requirements imposed by international and European fundamental rights law. It discusses a range of both civil/political fundamental rights (eg freedom of expression) and social/economic rights (eg right to health), for each of which it is discussed how it is protected by the ECHR, by other Council of Europe instruments, by EU law, and by international treaty instruments. Each chapter is concluded with an integration section, which explains the relations between the different systems of fundamental rights protection and discuss differences, overlap and bottlenecks.

  • Discusses how fundamental rights are protected in European and international systems. Includes a section on 'comparison and integration' of the different systems in each chapter
  • Discusses a wide selection of fundamental rights (both civil/political and social/economic) to make it easier to explain and understand the differences and parallels between the different types of rights and how they are protected
  • Focusses on European fundamental rights law but also discusses international law and provides a concise overview of the different instruments'

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Interdisciplinary Symposium on Climate Science, Human Rights Courts and the ECtHR

On Thursday 2 March 2023, Ghent University and Strasbourg University are organizing a symposium entitled ''Translating Climate Science for the Human Rights Court Room: An Interdisciplinary Encounter Between Science and Law''. The event will discuss climate change litigation, including litigation before the European Court of Human Rights, from an interdisciplinary perspective. The speakers at the event will be, amongst others, Hellen Keller (former judge at the ECtHR), Ioannis Ktistakis (sitting judge at the ECtHR) and Natalia Kobylarz (Senior Lawyer at the Court). 

Here is a brief description of the symposium:

''In light of the increasing pressure on international human rights adjudicative bodies to adjudicate on matters related to climate change, this symposium brings together eminent contributors from various disciplines to comment on the interpretation of climate science within the judicial setting. Acknowledging that judges will be tasked to engage in this complex, interdisciplinary exercise, the symposium seeks to mirror this complexity by bringing together scientists, historians and legal experts discussing comparative approaches to climate litigation, potential pitfalls, practical challenges as well as options for successful climate litigation before human rights adjudicative bodies. Underpinning this is the endeavour to provide a base line of understanding for various aspects of climate science: ranging from attribution questions concerning distinct emitters to quantifying ambition targets for individual states. The aim of this symposium is thus of two-fold nature: 1) knowledge sharing and providing an instructive part for legislators to use as guide posts when confronted with complex climate science; and 2) opening up an interactive forum between the different disciplines to facilitate a multi-layered, rich understanding of each other’s work.''

The program can be found here.

Thursday, 16 February 2023

New Book on Article 8 ECHR, Family Reunification and the UK's Supreme Court

Helena Wray (Associate Professor at the University of Exeter) has just published a new book entitled Article 8 ECHR, Family Reunification and the UK's Supreme Court: Family Matters? Here is a brief summary:

''How do courts reconcile protecting family life with immigration control in human rights cases? This book addresses that question through an analysis of 11 UK Supreme Court decisions on immigration and family life, mostly focusing on Article 8 ECHR, the right to respect for family life, and starting with Huang v SSHD in 2007. The analysis is set against a national context that includes the Human Rights Act 1998 and regular controversies over immigration.

The book explains how the European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence has developed in recent years, but, particularly in the absence of children, it often still awards little weight to claims by citizens and residents to be joined by family when immigration status is an issue. This reflects governments' resistance to encroachment on their control over borders. The Supreme Court decisions show that, despite powers conferred by the Human Rights Act, a more nuanced position in domestic law was difficult to articulate and sustain. The book explores the way in which these problems were reflected in the changing language, argumentation, and structure of judgments. These problems revealed judges to be strategic actors drawing on personal and institutional values and responding to the shifting political context.

A more generous reading of Article 8 would be legally coherent but needs wider societal support to be realisable. The book ends with a discussion of how, if such support were present, the jurisprudence could give more weight to the needs of families. It is vital reading for anyone interested in families and immigration, and in the problems and potential of human rights adjudication.''