Friday 15 April 2022

Call for Abstracts: The Value(s) of the European Convention on Human Rights

On 8 and 9 September 2022, B
irmingham Law School and PluriCourts will host a workshop on The value(s) of the European Convention on Human RightsHere is the call for abstracts:

The European Convention on Human Rights gives expression to – and establishes – a community of value. According to the Preamble, it builds upon the ‘common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law’ to achieve ‘greater unity’ between its members through ‘the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms’. Such unity is not an end in itself: a ‘common understanding and observance’ of human rights, together with ‘effective political democracy’, is needed to secure fundamental freedoms which are ‘the foundation of justice and peace in the world’.

These statements were made more than 70 years ago. Today, both the community and its values are under unprecedented pressures. Russia withdrew and was later expelled from the Council of Europe as a consequence of its invasion of Ukraine; the Polish Constitutional Tribunal has declared the right to a fair trial from Article 6(1) ECHR incompatible with the Polish Constitution in so far as it applies to the election of constitutional judges; and the British Government seeks to reform the Human Rights Act 1998 to ‘reduce reliance on the Strasbourg case law’, ‘reinforce the supremacy of the UK Supreme Court in the interpretation of rights’, as well as provide a ‘democratic shield’ that would protect Parliamentary sovereignty against the perceived threat of Strasbourg jurisprudence.

Against the backdrop of such challenges, the workshop aims to reflect on the values of the European Convention on Human Rights. First, the workshop seeks to examine the value of the Convention itself. To that end, the workshop aims to scrutinize the role, purpose, or value of the Convention system, the standards against which we should assess its successes and failures, and the ways in which the system can better fulfill or renew its original mission. In so doing, it aims to assess the value of the Convention both from the perspective of its historical achievements, and from the standpoint of its advantages and limits in the current socio-political context.

Second, the workshop discusses the foundational values from the Convention, and their interpretation and application by the European Court of Human Rights. It aims to do so on at least two different levels. On the one hand, it probes the specific values underlying the Convention system – such as dignity, liberty, and equality – and their meaning and role in the case-law of the ECtHR. On the other hand, it examines the status of such values – in terms of their universality, objectivity, normativity, and hierarchy between them – as well as the bearing of such status on the Court’s doctrines and its understanding of human rights.

Some questions that the workshop will seek to address are:

1. What are the purposes of the Convention and to what extent has the ECtHR been successful in achieving such purposes? What is the standard against which we should assess the successes and failures of the ECtHR?

2. To what extent has the role of the Convention changed in recent years and what consequences does that have on the doctrines of the ECtHR? How can the ECtHR preserve and maintain the value of the Convention in present circumstances?

3. To what extent are fundamental values from the Convention universal? To what extent are such values different from the values that are protected in other regional or global systems of human rights protection? To what extent should the value-based reasoning of the Court be informed by contingent circumstances?

4. Where does the normativity of values from the Convention come from? Are they best thought of as objective and external to legal practice or are they partly constructed or generated in the process of legal reasoning? To what extent should the ECtHR rely on value-based reasoning and to what extent it can or should avoid it?

5. What is the communal dimension of the fundamental values behind the Convention? Are there some evaluative commitments or duties arising from the membership in a community of value established by the Convention that exist in addition to the protection of substantive values from the Convention?

6. What are the evaluative assumptions presupposed by the key doctrines of the ECtHR, such as European consensus, margin of appreciation, public order, democratic society, autonomous concepts? How does the use of proportionality analysis by the ECtHR affect its understanding of values from the Convention?

These questions are for illustrative purposes only: we welcome papers from any discipline that fall within the broad theme of the workshop.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 3 June. For more information about the submission of abstracts, venue, and funding, click here.