Wednesday 29 April 2020

ECHR MOOC Starts Again on 4 May

Virtually all teaching has switched to online delivery globally in these times of pandemic. One of our ongoing efforts in this regard is the free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the ECHR starting again on Monday 4 May. Registration is open now! To enroll, please go to the Coursera platform.

The MOOC entitled 'Human Rights for open Societies - An introduction into the ECHR' is taught by myself (Antoine Buyse) and my Utrecht University colleagues professor Janneke Gerards and Claire Loven. This is the abstract of our six-week course:

'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. Equip yourself and learn more about what human rights are and how they work. 

In this course, we will introduce you to one of the world’s most intricate human rights systems: the European Convention on Human Rights. You will see when and how people can turn to the European Court of Human Rights to complain about human rights violations. You will learn how the Court tries to solve many of the difficult human rights dilemmas of today. We will look, amongst other things, at the freedom of expression and demonstration, the right to vote, and the prohibition of discrimination. And we will address the rights of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups. And, of course, we will see whether it is possible to restrict rights and if so under what conditions. You will even encounter watchdogs and ice cream in this course. We invite you to follow us on a journey of discovery into the European Convention!'

Please watch this short introduction video to get an impression:

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Robert Spano New President of the Court

This week, the European Court of Human Rights has elected judge Robert Spano to become its new President. Spano has been a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Iceland since 1 November 2013. Previously, he was President of Section (1 May 2017 to 30 April 2019) and Vice-President of the Court (since 5 May 2019). He will succeed current President Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, whose term of office expires on 17 May 2020. 

Judge Spano's Presidency of the Court would presumably last until the end of his judicial term, so until November 2022. It thus fits in the trend of the last few year's of relatively short-serving Presidents compared to the earlier decades of the Court's history. Next to this work at the Court, Judge Spano is well-known for his academic writings and for introducing the notion of the 'Age of Subsidiarity' to describe the newest phase of the Court's evolution. In the current challenging times, this may also be the Age of Distance-Functioning for the Court in different ways than subsidiarity means to convey. Many challenges ahead for the Court with the many derogations due to the pandemic and the working-from-home set-up of the current Court, reflecting many other workplaces currently. But with his great intellectual energy, judge Spano is no doubt well-placed to tackle these together with his colleagues.

Congrats to judge Spano and best wishes for the coming term!

Wednesday 15 April 2020

New Book on ECHR and International Judicial Review

In these highly exceptional circumstances, with the highest simultaneous number of derogations from the ECHR ever recorded since its creation and the Court just having prolonged the exceptional measures for its continued functioning until at least halfway June, things are anything but business as usual. The ramifications for human rights of the current pandemic are both acute and long-term. All the more reason to continue to infuse current debates with much needed original thought and knowledge-based input. In that context, allow me to give point you to an important new book on the key debate on international judicial review by Shai Dothan (iCourts, University of Copenhagen):

* Shai Dothan, International Judicial Review. When Should International Courts Intervene? (Cambridge University Press 2020):

The book is motivated by a question: When should international courts intervene in domestic affairs? To answer this question thoroughly, it is broken down to a series of separate inquiries: When is intervention legitimate? When can international courts identify good legal solutions? When will intervention initiate useful processes? When will it lead to good outcomes? These inquiries are answered based on reviewing judgments of international courts, strategic analysis, and empirical findings. The book outlines under which conditions intervention by international courts is recommended and evaluates the implications international courts have for society. 

The European Court of Human Rights is the main case study in the book.