Thursday 5 November 2009

Book on International Law and ECHR

Frédéric Vanneste, formerly at the University of Leuven and now working for the Belgian Council of State, has just published his book General International Law Before Human Rights Courts - Assessing the Specialty Claims of Human Rights Law. Although it deals with a wider issue, an analysis of ECHR case law is one of the core elements of the book. This is the abstract:

This book analyzes how the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) deal with general international law. In the light of the concerns of various authors about the fragmentation of international law and the “human rightist” aspirations of human rights law, the question arises whether these human rights courts put the unity of general international law into danger.

The main idea of this study is that the ECtHR and the IACtHR may in principle only “elaborate” and not “depart” from or “contradict” general international law. A departure is only acceptable if a clear lex specialis has been established for human rights law.

The author researches whether or not the sometimes different case law of both human rights courts fits into this assumption. Almost all topics of general international law that have been dealt with by the ECtHR and IACtHR are analyzed: reservations, application of treaties ratione temporis, ratione loci and ratione personae, interpretation rules, the theory of the sources of international law, jus cogens, modification and withdrawal from treaties, diplomatic protection, exhaustion of local remedies, State responsibility (including the law of reparations), foreign State immunity and State succession.

This volume is of interest not only to human rights lawyers, but to all international lawyers. It explains how certain traditional concepts of general international law appear to function, and how other concepts need to be refined in order to create a more effective international order. This analysis may be a source of inspiration for other subsystems of international law like environmental law, WTO law, maritime law, space law, etc.
At the same publisher, a guide for practioners and others interested in bringing cases to the European Court of Human Rights has just been published by my colleague Yves Haeck - in Dutch: Procederen voor het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens, an impressive and very complete roadmap to Strasbourg.