Monday 31 October 2011

Today: Seminar on Bridging the Implementation Gap

As a very late announcement, but maybe of interest to those living in the Netherlands: The Netherlands Helsinki Committee, formerly focusing mostly on the OSCE, is today organising a seminar on implementation problems and the ECHR. It is entitled 'Bridging the Implementation Gap - Enlarging Civil Society’s Role in the European Court of Human Rights’ Implementation Process' and takes place in The Hague. This is the conference announcement:

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) wishes to stimulate a more serious and consistent implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgments with a view to help bridge 'the implementation gap'. As a civil society organisation, we will focus on the role of NGO’s in the implementation process. To start off our contribution to improved implementation we have planned a seminar entitled

- Enlarging Civil Society’s Role in the European Court of Human Rights’ Implementation Process -

to take place in The Hague on 31 October 2011. The seminar will be followed by an informal NGO meeting to discuss and adopt an NGO Action Plan on the following day. We would like to cordially invite you to attend and participate in this seminar and contribute to the adoption of the Action Plan.

When discussing the ECtHR with our partners and experts we often notice that they place more emphasis on bringing well-reasoned applications and obtaining equally well-reasoned judgments than on following up on judgments to ensure their full and effective implementation. We are of the opinion that improved implementation has a strong potential to save the ECHR protection system from asphyxiation. Civil society can play a major role in this and a larger role than it has played to date. We define full and effective implementation as taking measures relating to legislation, policy and practice that go beyond the individual case and that remedy the structural problem that is at the root of a violation.

During the seminar we will discuss activities that civil society can initiate to rise to the challenge of bridging the implementation gap. We will invite civil society organisations from across Europe, professionals working at the Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly politicians and academics to participate. It is our intention that the seminar serves as the starting point for a Europe-wide civil society alliance to become exceedingly actively involved in the implementation process. This alliance will follow the Action Plan that we will adopt during the informal NGO meeting on the day following the seminar.

The first part of the seminar is dedicated to the importance of implementation and the (potential) role of civil society in the implementation process from the perspective of the Parliamentary Assembly, academia and the NHC. During the second part of the seminar, we will discuss examples of good practice, such as European NGO coalitions established to follow-up on a judgment, examples of structural non-implementation and formal and informal ways to press for implementation available to civil society. You are warmly invited to share your thoughts on this and tell us about initiatives of your organisation during this interactive and rather informal part of the seminar. At the end of the day, we will start brainstorming about an Action Plan and present our preliminary conclusions.