Friday, 20 October 2017

Fifth Edition of Free Online Course on ECHR

This coming Monday 23 October, we are launching the fifth edition of our successful and free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the ECHR. It is entitled 'Human Rights for Open Societies. An introduction into the European Convention on Human Rights' and is offered on the Coursera platform. You can register here and watch the trailer video here. This is the announcement:

'For the fifth time Utrecht University launches the highly successful MOOC 'Human Rights for Open Societies - An Introduction into the European Convention on Human Rights'. This course is for everyone who is interested in the protection of human rights and the idea of open societies. More than 11,500 enthusiastic learners participated in the previous editions of the online course. The new edition of the MOOC starts on 23 October 2017. 

Human rights are under pressure in many places across the globe. Peaceful protests are violently quashed. Voting is tampered with. And minorities are often excluded from decision-making. All of this threatens the ideal of an open society in which each of us can be free and participate equally. A solid protection of human rights is needed for an open society to exist and to flourish. But it is often an uphill battle to work towards that ideal.

In this course, Prof Antoine Buyse (Human Rights), Prof Janneke Gerards (Fundamental Rights Law) and Dr Paulien de Morree introduce you to one of the world’s most intricate human rights systems: the European Convention on Human Rights. This international treaty is one of the most successful instruments for protecting human dignity and it is a crucial tool for achieving an open society. In this course you will discover what this treaty is and how it aims to advance human rights and the idea of an open society in Europe.

You will learn when and how people can turn to the European Court of Human Rights to complain about human rights violations and how the Court deals with the difficult human rights dilemmas of today. You will look, amongst other things, at the freedom of expression and demonstration, the right to vote, and the prohibition of discrimination. This course also addresses the rights of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups. And, of course you will see whether and under what conditions human rights may be restricted.'

Thursday, 19 October 2017

New ECHR Readings

Please find below another batch of new academic writings about the European Convention and the European Court:


'In her manuscript Elisa Ravasi examines how the ECtHR responds to the growing challenges of overlapping legal systems. She focuses, in particular, on the relationship between the ECHR and EU law. First, she systematically analyses 10 years of ECtHR jurisprudence on the principle of equivalent protection and develops an innovative analysis scheme for its application. Afterwards, she examines the equivalency of the human rights protection provided by the ECJ in light of the minimum standards of the ECHR in three specific fields (naming law, ne bis in idem and equality of arms). Finally, she considers whether the presumption of equivalent protection of the ECtHR in favour of the EU is still justified.'

* Anja Seibert-Fohr, 'The Effect of Subsequent Practice on the European Convention on Human Rights', in: Anne van Aaken & Iulia Motoc eds., The ECHR and General International Law,(forthcoming):

'Under which conditions and to what extent can subsequent State practice legitimately influence the interpretation or even modify international treaties? This issue of general international law has been on the European Court of Human Rights’ agenda for quite some time and is ongoing as evidenced in Hassan v. the United Kingdom. While State practice has traditionally played a role in the interpretation of the Convention, the Court’s methodology to determine under what circumstance and to what extent State practice is able to affect the scope and meaning of the Convention remains uncertain.

This article develops a general theoretical framework, which rationalizes the normative value of subsequent practice in the context of human rights treaty interpretation and sets out its relevant standards. Drawing from the ILC’s recent work on ‘Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to interpretation of treaties’, the author argues that the Vienna Rules provide a matrix. This perimeter allows sufficient flexibility to accommodate the specific nature of human rights law. The author proposes a normative scale, which can guide the Court in enhancing its methodological consistency. Pursuant to this scale, exigencies for the density of subsequent practice and the degree of acceptance pursuant to Article 38 (1)(b) VCLT vary depending on the nature of the rule and the claimed normative value of State practice. Once State practice meets the required standard, it can sustain the legitimacy of treaty interpretation. On this basis, subsequent practice can serve as a catalyst for the advancement of human rights.'

* Kristen Barnes, 'Adjudicating Equality: Antidiscrimination Education Jurisprudence in the European Court of Human Rights', Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice, Vol. 33, 2017: 

'This Article examines the state of antidiscrimination education jurisprudence in Europe by analyzing several prominent cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights. In those cases, the applicants alleged that they were discriminated against in the exercise of their right to education based upon their ethnicity in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Novel aspects of the cases include the Court’s recognition of the theory of indirect discrimination and its imposition of positive obligations. The cases examined have a broader application that has yet to be explored at the higher education level and by other racial minority groups. Focusing on the legal principles of proportionality, the margin of appreciation, and consensus, this Article analyzes the Court’s reasoning and delineates its framework for cases of this type. The paper offers insights concerning the Court’s theory of racial discrimination, highlights issues arising out of the theory and its application, and concludes with recommendations for the Court’s future trajectory in this realm.'

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Call for Papers: Workshop at European Court of Human Rights

On 21 September 2018, a group of leading academic centres in Europe, including our own Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), is co-organising a workshop at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The workshop is entitled:

Responding to Legitimacy Challenges: Opportunities and Choices for the European Court of Human Rights - Researchers Meet the Court

In that context, we are now opening a call for papers. The deadline is 15 February 2018. This is a unique opportunity to present and discuss your work at the Court in the presence of judges, members of the Court’s Registry and leading academics!

Content of the Workshop
Challenges confront the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and its procedures, policies and judgments. Criticisms concern the Court’s backlog, its methods of interpretation, its deference to domestic actors – or its lack thereof. Reactions from states include willful partial compliance with judgments or even principled resistance. These challenges have appeared in many different shapes: not just as criticism from State Parties’ governments, but also from domestic courts, academics, civil society organizations and the media.

Against the backdrop of these challenges, we organize a workshop at the European Court of Human Rights to facilitate informal exchanges among academics and members of the Court including the Registry. The aim is to identify and discuss both challenges and possible solutions. The event will address how the ECtHR may respond and does respond by varied means, including:
  • criteria for case selection;
  • the Court’s reasoning;
  • pilot judgments;
  • dialogues with domestic judiciaries;
  • the margin of appreciation doctrine.

Call for Papers
We invite abstracts of maximum 400-500 words together with a cover letter by February 15, 2018, in one single PDF document. The abstract should go beyond the standard conference abstract and include the key steps of the argument to be presented. The cover letter should include a 1 paragraph CV and explain the context of the paper: e.g. whether it is part of a PhD project, whether it is based on undertaken empirical research or part of ongoing research etc. Accepted contributors will be asked to provide a 4-5 page position paper, to be presented at a panel of the workshop. Travel funds will be available upon request.

To submit a paper abstract, go to the submission portal.

Organisers
This event is co-organized by PluriCourts of the University of Oslo, The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) and the Montaigne Centre at Utrecht University, the Human Rights Centre at Ghent University, Koç University Centre for Global Public Law and Hertie School of Governance, Berlin in collaboration with the European Court of Human Rights.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Book on Clashing Rights at the European Court

The excellent colleagues over at the Ghent Human Rights Centre have published a new book on conflicts between rights in Strasbourg. The book, edited by dr Stijn Smet and professor Eva Brems, is entitled When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights - Conflict or Harmony? and was published with Oxford University Press. This is the book's abstract:

'The notion of conflict rests at the heart of the judicial function. Judges are routinely asked to resolve disputes and defuse tensions. Yet, when judges are called upon to adjudicate a purported conflict between human rights, they face particular challenges and must address specific questions. Some of these concern the very existence of human rights conflicts. Can human rights really conflict with one another, in terms of mutual incompatibility? Or should human rights be interpreted in harmony with one another? Other questions concern the resolution of real conflicts. To the extent that human rights do conflict, how should these conflicts be resolved? To what extent is balancing desirable? And if it is desirable, which understanding of balancing should judges employ? This book seeks to provide both theoretical and practical answers to these questions. 

When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? debates both the existence and resolution of human rights conflicts, in the specific context of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The contributors put forth principled and pragmatic arguments and propose theoretical as well as practical approaches, whilst firmly embedding their proposals in the case law of the European Court. Doing so, this book provides concrete ways forward in the ongoing debate on conflicts of rights at Europe's human rights court.'

Congrats, Stijn and Eva!