Wednesday 31 March 2010

New ECHR Articles on SSRN

In the last few weeks a number of papers and articles relatign to the ECHR have been posten on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), which makes them freely available. Here are a few of the notable ones:

* Anne Peters, 'The Applicability of the European Convention of Human Rights in Times of Complex Jurisdiction and the Principle of Fundamental Rights Tolerance (Die Anwendbarkeit der EMRK in Zeiten komplexer Hoheitsgewalt und das Prinzip der Grundrechtstoleranz)'
Growing transnational integration leads to an incremental exercise of governmental functions abroad and to increasing transferrals of governmental authority to international organisations. The question arises where, for whom, and under which conditions the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) is applicable. This issue involves first the question of the scope of the Convention, second the problem of the attribution of potentially illegal acts to a member state of the convention, and third question of the Strasbourg Human Rights Court’s jurisdiction. The starting point of reflections on scope, attribution and jurisdiction is the insight that the ECHR is a regional human rights instrument, and that some kind of coordination of multiple regimes is required in a polycentric and polyarchic world. Therefore the application of the ECHR outside the espace juridique of the Convention and in situations, in which international organisations are involved, should remain the exception. International legal coordination presupposes respect for foreign state sovereignty, but also respect for the autonomy of other autonomous political actors, such as the United Nations. On the other hand, a categorical non-application of the Convention in constellations of complex jurisdiction would run counter to the idea of effective human rights protection.

The paper deals with that tension. Part A analyses the ambiguous term “jurisdiction” as laid down in Article 1 ECHR. Part B systematises the relevant Strasbourg case law in comparison to decisions of other national and international adjudicatory bodies. The paper distinguishes “territorial” cases (part A I), and cases involving international organisations (part A II). The latter constellation is governed by various, partly contradictory principles. On the one hand, member states are not allowed to escape their obligations under the ECHR by transferring powers to other organisations. On the other hand, the Strasbourg Court exercises judicial self restraint vis-à-vis the EU. Finally, the Court has introduced the criterion of “ultimate control” in order to determine the attribution of an act to an international organisation, which leads to an easy negation of responsibility of the involved ECHR member states. Part C presents an alternative approach for the assessment of the applicability of the Convention and for attribution. Ultimately, the paper suggests a solution on the level of substantive law, not on the level of the Court’s jurisdiction. This solution should be based on a rebuttable presumption of equivalent protection (principle of fundamental rights tolerance). Moreover, the possibility of modifications of human rights obligations should be acknowledged, in order to avoid an undue burden of the ECHR member states.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.
* Erik Bjorge, 'The Status of the ECHR in Norway: Should Norwegian Courts Interpret the Convention Dynamically?'

This paper looks at the development in the jurisprudence of the Norwegian Supreme Court towards interpreting the ECHR dynamically.
And from the same author, 'A History of Sexuality in Europe: LGBT Rights and Dynamic Interpretation of the ECHR'
A stock-take and critique of the relationship between changing sexual discourse and dynamic interpretation of the ECHR.
* Elizabeth Palmer, ' Protecting Socio-Economic Rights Through the European Convention on Human Rights: Trends and Developments in the European Court of Human Rights'

This article is concerned with jurisprudential trends and developments in the protection of socio-economic rights through the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It focuses on the potential to gain access to health care and welfare services, and the financial means to acquire them, through the development of positive obligations in ECHR rights. It demonstrates that, under Articles 3 and 8 ECHR, there has been progress towards a principled jurisprudence of positive obligations to provide for the basic human needs of vulnerable dependent individuals in a range of contexts, although the limits of state responsibility remain fluid and contested. Secondly, it argues that, in the light of differences between national policies and administrative procedures for the fair distribution of public resources, the incremental approach to the protection of socio-economic rights through the interpretation of Articles 6 and 14 ECHR remains problematic. Nevertheless, it is suggested that recent developments in Article 14 jurisprudence, particularly as demonstrated in the case of D.H. v. Czech Republic, signal a shift from a narrow formalistic approach to dealing with issues of discrimination to one that may be more capable of addressing systemic inequalities in the distribution of social provisions to vulnerable individuals and marginalised groups.