Thursday 19 April 2012

Brighton Has Started

Today, the formal part of the Brighton conference has started. The final declaration is due to be adopted tomorrow. After all the months of preparations, the at times scathing attacks on the Court and the not always very nuanced discussions, it now seems that the strong counter-lobby of many states, NGOs and national human rights institutions has led the UK chairmanship of the Council of Europe to backtrack on many parts of their proposals. Still, the Cameron government will want and need something to shows to their constituencies after they upped the stakes so much over the past months, so we will see what the final declaration will offer. In the meantime, the last version that is available online of the draft declaration dates from a week ago (12 April) and can be found here. As the changes in that document show, most of the sharp edges of the earlier drafts have been polished off. Subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation are still mentioned to be included in the Convention, but only in the Preamble, not in the operative parts. Also, the criterion of having to declare applications inadmissible which have already been duly considered by national courts is no longer proposed to be formally included in the Convention text, rather it seems now just to be something the state parties ask the Court to do (with the Court being the final arbiter in making that decision). The proposed time limit to lodge complaints is four months (instead of the current six in the current system). Let's see what tomorrow brings!