Dear readers of the ECHR Blog, we are very pleased to inform you that the editorial team of our blog will be expanded. As of this week, Matilda Rados is joining us as assistant editor.
Matilda Rados is junior lecturer in international law and human rights at Utrecht University and editor in chief of the Utrecht Journal of International and European Law. She is currently coaching the Utrecht University team of the Helga Pedersen Moot Court Competition. Matilda specializes in the ECHR and transitional justice.
We are very happy to add Matilda to this blog's editorial team. Together we will run the blog, add new items and can be approached for any ECHR-related conference announcements, publications, etc. Matilda, welcome on board!
The election of the Court's new President yesterday entitled a reshuffling of a number off other key functions within the European Court of Human Rights. In the same plenary meeting yesterday, the Court's judges elected amongst themselves two new Vice-Presidents and two Section Presidents of the Court. The two new Vice-Presidents are Georges Ravarani, judge in respect of Luxembourg, and Marko Bošnjak, judge in respect of Slovenia. The two new Section Presidents are Pere Pastor Vilanova, judge in respect of Andorra, and judge Arnfinn Bårdsen, judge in respect of Norway.These judges will take up their duties on 1 November. Good luck to all of them! The full composition of the European Court of Human Rights can be found here.
Today, the European Court of Human Rights has elected Síofra O’Leary, judge in respect of Ireland, as its new President. Síofra O’Leary is the very first female President since the creation of the European Court of Human Rights.
She joined the Court in 2015 and became section president as well as vice-president of the Court at the start of this current year. After having studied law in Ireland in the 1980s, judge O'Leary wrote and defended her PhD at the European University Institute in Florence and subsequently was connected to universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. For the almost two decades before joining the Strasbourg Court, she worked in European Union Law at the sister Court in Luxembourg, where she was Référendaire, Chef de Cabinet and Head of Unit. With this strong previous background in EU law and her extensive experience on the Convention, she might be the perfect fit for the era that may, if negotiations this time go well, lead to the generations-long-awaited accession of the EU to the ECHR. Who knows what the future will bring.
Judge O’Leary will succeed the Court's current President Robert Spano on 1 November 2022. Good luck to the Court's new President!
Today, 16 September 2002, presents a sad landmark: the Russian Federation ceases to be a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Exactly half a year has passed since Russia was excluded from the Council of Europe following its invasion of Ukraine.
And even if the European Court of Human Rights still is competent to deal with applications against Russia concerning actions or omissions occurring up until today, it cannot be denied that this is a huge loss: the protective umbrella, even if it was not fully able to protect people against human rights violations, will no longer be there. As the picture shows, a huge territory now falls outside the geographical scope of the ECHR. It can no longer be said, as many of us teaching on the Convention were used to, that the ECHR applies from Reyjavik to Vladivostok. Much more importantly, more than 140 million people can no longer turn to the European Court of Human Rights, nor invoke the ECHR in domestic courts, for any new violations of the Convention.
And of course, there are currently still 17,450 applications against Russia pending before the Court. And Russia also has a continuing legal obligation to still implement past judgments as well as those following from these applications, but the practical prospects seem dim. The same goes for cooperation with the Committee of Ministers. All of this in spite of the words that mean to inspire some small sense of hope from the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, who also called for a halt to the war and to suppression in Russia itself:
'The Council of Europe will continue to support and engage with human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society in the Russian Federation. Our hope is that, one day, Russian citizens will once again be able to enjoy the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights.'
The European Court for its part took formal notice earlier this month of the fact that the office of a judge in respect of the Russian Federation also ceases to exist as of today. See also our earlier guest post on what could happen with the pending cases here.
Let us hope that one day the situation will have changed for the positive again so that the ECHR will again protect all people within the Russian Federation too. And for all those suffering from the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Committee of Minsters re-affirmed yesterday in a decision that there should be no impunity for the crimes committed there. For now, 16 September 2002 stands as a sad day for human rights.
'Adopted in the aftermath of the Second World War and implemented as a ‘living instrument’, the European Convention on Human Rights has, over the past 70 years, shown remarkable adaptability to changing circumstances through the evolutive jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. While the Court has already demonstrated its willingness to address new challenges to human rights arising from environmental damage and climate change, growing scientific evidence and mounting public demand for action have accelerated the need for more fundamental engagement. This timely book – also a Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment – brings into sharp relief the specific challenges faced by the Court in addressing the human rights impacts of the interlocking environmental and climate crises.
Leading scholars and practitioners, including the President of the European Court of Human Rights, provide important insights into current thinking about environmental human rights in different jurisdictions and ways in which the European Court could adapt its principles and practice in light of the evolving international environmental human rights corpus iuris.
Drawing together theoretical insights and practice-led commentary, the contributions to this important book will be of interest to human rights and environmental law scholars, practitioners, students and policy makers.'
Utrecht University's free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the ECHR is starting again this week, on 7 September. 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!'
'In Malone v. UK (Plenary 1984), the right to an effective domestic remedy in the European Convention on Human Rights Article 13 was famously described as one of the most obscure clauses in the Convention. Since then, the European Court of Human Rights has reinforced the scope and application of the right. Through an analysis of virtually all of the Court's judgments concerning Article 13, the book exhaustively accounts for the development and current scope and content of the right. The book also provides normative recommendations on how the Court could further develop the right, most notably how it could be a tool to regulate the relationship between domestic and international protection of human rights. In doing so, the book situates itself within larger debates on the enforcement of the entire Convention such as the principle of subsidiarity and the procedural turn in the Court's case law.'