Wednesday 28 June 2023

Call for Interest - Protecting Free Speech through ECtHR Implementation

The European Implementation Network (EIN) is calling on NGOs to express their interest to participate in a new project entitled 'Protecting Freedom of Expression by Supporting the Implementation of ECtHR judgments'. The project is aimed at protecting the right to free speech in every country in Europe where there is a ECtHR judgment pending implementation. Civil society will be provided with training, resources and mentoring in order to enable them to engage with the implementation process of the ECtHR judgments. The project will run for two years (
June 2023-May 2025).

Here is a description of the call:

'On 1st June, EIN launched a new project aimed at protecting freedom of expression by supporting ECtHR implementation, which will last for two years. The project aims at mapping ECtHR judgments pending implementation and NGOs working on freedom of expression, and helping them to use the ECtHR judgments implementation avenue to push for freedom of speech in Europe. 

A two-day event will be organised in the second half of November (20-21 November, Mediencampus, Leipzig) for partners in the project. Activities will include assistance with drafting written submissions to the Council of Europe’s implementation monitoring process, and advice on advocacy best practices at national level to promote ECtHR implementation; briefings on cases concerning freedom of expression or media freedom to delegates of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe; training and a conference to share lessons-learnt and best practices among stakeholders, and reporting on the overall state of implementation of ECtHR judgments concerning free speech. 

EIN has a limited number of grants to allocate to NGOs committed to take part in our project. 

Applications from NGOs which are specialized in the defense of freedom of expression but do not work yet on the implementation of ECtHR judgments are welcome. If your NGO already works on the implementation of FoE pending judgments, you might also benefit from our support.  At this stage, if your organisation is interested in applying for a grant, we kindly ask you to fill in this form by the end of July.

Partners who will receive a grant from EIN in the frame of the project “Promoting Free Speech with European Judgments” will be considered Beneficiaries and will sign a subgrant agreement with EIN. For more information about the eligible activities, please see the Guidelines for beneficiaries.

The expertise of your organizations would be a valuable contribution to advocacy efforts for the implementation of ECHR judgments on free speech and can help turn judgments from the ECHR into real changes.'

More information about the project can be found here.

Monday 26 June 2023

New Edition of 'General Principles of the European Convention on Human Rights'

Our Utrecht University colleague professor Janneke Gerards has published the new second edition of her textbook entitled General Principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. This textbook offers an explanation of all relevant substantive concepts and principles of ECHR law. 

This is the abstract:

''The European Convention on Human Rights is one of the world's most important and influential human rights documents. It owes its value mainly to the European Court of Human Rights, which applies the Convention rights in individual cases. This book offers insight into the concepts and principles that are key to understanding the European Convention and the Court's case law. It explains how the Court approaches its cases and its decision-making process, illustrated by numerous examples taken from the Court's judgments. Core issues discussed include types of Convention rights (such as absolute rights); the structure of the Court's Convention rights review; principles and methods of interpretation (such as common-ground interpretation and the use of precedent); positive and negative obligations; vertical and horizontal effect; the margin of appreciation doctrine; and the requirements for the restriction of Convention rights.''

Thursday 22 June 2023

New ECHR Readings

Please find below our newest batch of selected academic publications on the European Convention of Human Rights and the Court European Court of Human Rights and its case-law:

* Lize R. Glas, 'The age of subsidiarity? The ECtHR’s approach to the admissibility requirement that applicants raise their Convention complaint before domestic courts', Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, Volume 41, Issue 2 (2023):

‘The Copenhagen Declaration (2018) welcomed European Court of Human Rights (Court) ‘continued strict and consistent’ application of the admissibility criteria, ‘including by requiring applicants to be more diligent in raising their Convention complaints domestically’ when exhausting domestic remedies. This article answers the question whether the Court has indeed required applicants to be more diligent in this respect. The answer contributes to a body of academic research studying to what extent and how the Court has developed the subsidiarity principle. Additionally, the answer is of great practical relevance to applicants and their representatives, because they may have to change how they plead their case before the domestic courts with a view to bringing a complaint in Strasbourg. The case-law analysis performed in this article shows that, in some recent rulings, which mainly hailed from the UK, the Court has indeed required applicants to be more diligent in raising their Convention complaints domestically. However, the Court does not maintain this stricter line consistently.’

* Remigijus Jokubauskas and Marek Świerczyński, 'Digitalisation of Enforcement Proceedings', Utrecht Law Review Volume 19, Issue 1 (2023):

‘This article focuses on the compatibility of electronic enforcement proceedings and the right to a fair trial. Since Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights is applicable to enforcement proceedings, enforcement proceedings must be effective and satisfy the requirement of fair trial. Electronic enforcement proceedings need to find a fair balance between accelerated enforcement and protection of human rights. Thus, the authors analyse what procedural guarantees of fair trial are applicable in electronic enforcement proceedings and how they are compatible with the protection of human rights. In order to answer these questions, the authors first analyse what procedural guarantees of fair trial are applicable in electronic enforcement proceedings and what is the application, ratione personae, of Article 6 of the ECHR in such proceedings. Second, the authors focus on some specific issues of electronic enforcement proceedings: electronic issuance and submission of enforceable documents and electronic auctions. The analysis encompasses the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights, and the regulation of enforcement proceedings and case law of various states. Third, the authors discuss the problems of liability for violations of the right to fair electronic enforcement proceedings.’

* Vladislava Stoyanova, 'Framing Positive Obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights Law: Mediating between the Abstract and the Concrete', Human Rights Law Review, Volume 23, Issue 3 (2023):

‘Positive obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights can be framed with different levels of concreteness. The level chosen is essential for understanding the analytical distinction between the existence of an obligation and its breach. The level of concreteness is an important conceptual framework because it has an impact even on the possibility of making an assessment as to whether the State has breached the obligation, and on how this assessment is performed in the reasoning. Kurt v Austria is used to illustrate how positive obligations can be framed both in more abstract and concrete terms, and how the reasoning mediates between the two. The more it tilts towards a concrete formulation of the obligation, the more the Court appears to assume the role of a rule-maker, which is in tension with the principle that States have discretion as to the concrete measures to fulfill their positive obligations.’

* Jeremy Letwin, ‘Proportionality, Stringency and Utility in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights’, Human Rights Law Review , Volume 23, Issue 3 (2023):

‘I argue that a form of indirect utilitarianism can provide a sufficiently plausible justification for three crucial elements of the ECtHR’s doctrine of proportionality to be taken seriously as an account of this doctrine. I show how indirect utilitarianism can account for the relation between moral rights and Convention rights, the resistance to trade-offs that is a particular property of Convention rights and the nature of the public interest against which rights must be balanced. I argue that the indirect utilitarian account provides a coherent interpretation of the Court’s jurisprudence concerning: (i) aims that express moralistic external preferences and their legitimacy; (ii) balancing and the doctrine of the ‘essence of rights’; and (iii) the Court’s reasoning in Dickson v UK. I conclude by exploring the further work needed to establish more firmly this account’s plausibility as an interpretation of the Court’s doctrine of proportionality as a whole.’

* Marko Bošnjak and Kacper Zajac, ‘Judicial Activism and Judge-Made Law at the ECtHR’, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 23, Issue 3 (2023):

‘This paper contributes to an ongoing debate concerning the perceived judicial activism of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). It argues that the output of the Court should be better viewed as the phenomenon of judicial law-making, not unlike in domestic jurisdictions. However, unlike many domestic legal systems, the European Convention on Human Rights framework promotes large quantities of judge-made law. This outcome results from a combination of objective factors that, taken together, enhance the process of judicial law-making by the ECtHR. Those factors include the applied mode of interpretation of the Convention, the approach to its construction, the weak textual basis, the existence of positive obligations, the lack of the doctrine of precedent, the extremely high case law and judicial turnovers, the concurrent legislative inactivity, the existence of the inter-state jurisdiction and the doctrine of autonomous meaning. At the same time, the judicial law-making is only hindered by the doctrine of subsidiarity, the principle of margin of appreciation and the Fourth Instance doctrine. As a consequence of this overwhelming dominance of the factors enhancing the process of judicial law-making over those that hinder it, the ECtHR produces large quantities of judge-made law.’

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Webinar: "The Road to Reykjavik: Post Summit Reflections"

On 26 June between 12:00-14:00 CET, SWPS University, Riga Graduate School of Law and the University of Cologne are organizing a webinar entitled ''The Road to Reykjavik: Post Summit Reflections''. This webinar is the fourth and last of a series of webinars discussing some pressing issues facing the Council of Europe. During this last webinar, the Reykjavik Summit will be reviewed and the panelists will reflect on the future functioning of the Council of Europe. 

You can register here

Tuesday 20 June 2023

New Issue ECHR Law Review

The second issue of the year of the ECHR Law Review has just been published (Vol. 4, issue 2). The issue contains one editorial, one guest editorial, two research articles and two book reviews. The contributions discuss such topics as immunities barring prosecutions of the crime of aggression, the predominance test under Article 18 ECHR and the role of common values in the jurisprudence of the Court, to name a few. This is the table of contents:

* Vassilis P Tzevelekos, 'Immunities Barring the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine: The Contribution of the ECtHR Case Law'

* Rosanne van Alebeek, Larissa van den Herik and Cedric Ryngaert, 'Prosecuting Russian Officials for the Crime of Aggression: What About Immunities?'

* Tobias Mortier, 'Reprehensible or Legitimate Aims? A Proposal for a New Approach to Article 18 ECHR in Light of its Predominance Test'

* Carl Emilio Lewis, 'The European Court of Human Rights and its Search for Common Values'

* Brice Dickson, 'Dilek Kurban, Limits of Supranational Justice: The European Court of Human Rights and Turkey's Kurdish Conflict'

* Leto Cariolou, 'Robert Spano, Iulia Motoc, Branko Lubarda, Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, Marialena Tsirli (eds), and Aikaterini Lazana (assistant), Fair Trial: Regional and International Perspectives / Procès équitable: perspectives régionales et internationales, Liber Amicorum Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos'

Monday 19 June 2023

Call for Papers on Defending Judicial Independence

The ELTE Institute of Political and International Studies (Hungary) and CNR Institute for International Legal Studies (Italy) have launched a joint call for papers. Together, they are organising a conference entitled 'Empowering Domestic Judiciaries: The Role of European Actors in Defending Judicial Independence.' The conference, with both ECHR and EU dimensions, will take place in Budapest on 12 and 13 October 2023. This is what the conference is about:

'The conference aims to discuss the role of European actors in promoting judicial independence across Europe. The conference focuses on formal and informal instruments used at the European level to help domestic judiciaries resist political pressure and autocratic tendencies undermining the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. There has long been a lively debate about the use of European and international law in protecting the rule of law at the national level, and these debates regularly revolve around the developments in the relevant jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Besides these formal practices, the organizers of the conference are particularly interested in the role of informal or soft instruments (such as the work of judicial networks, transnational associations, advisory bodies or academies) in empowering and mobilising domestic judiciaries to stand for their independence. What have these actors done so far? How do they help European courts (CJEU and ECtHR) to address the challenges to judicial independence adequately? And what more can they do to help judiciaries under attack by their governments? Furthermore, we also seek to reveal how transnational and national actors can work together to promote the independence of judges. The conference's main goal is to provide tools for domestic judiciaries to stand for their independence effectively and combat the full-blown politicisation of their profession.

The conference concentrates on judiciaries in Southern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe. Courts from these regions have been facing increasing challenges regarding their independence, and the organisation of these judiciaries show some common patterns which suggest that they can learn from each other. We seek to deliberate on both formal and informal practices available for promoting the resistance of domestic judiciaries and to evaluate their effectiveness in fighting for judicial independence at the national level. As we focus on judiciaries in Southern Europe and the CEE region, we are also interested in how an essentially apolitical, career judiciary can tackle the problem of politicisation.'

To apply, those interested can submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short CV with the most relevant publications by 31 July 2023. All information on the conference, including keynote speakers, themes and more, can be found here.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Launch of the EIN-DRI Rule of Law Report 2023

On Monday 3 July 2023 between 16:00-17:30 CET, the European Implementation Network (EIN) and Democracy Reporting International (DRI) are organizing an online launch of the 2023 report on the non-implementation of regional courts' judgments. The event will start with a presentation of the report's findings and recommendations, after which a panel discussion will follow discussing how the EU and the Council of Europe can cooperate better on enforcing the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU.

Here is some information about the report:

''The attacks on fundamental European values in the past years have continued to raise concern for European stakeholders, from governments to media and citizens alike. The European Union (EU) has introduced a series of policy measures designed to halt and reverse this phenomenon, ranging from the new annual rule of law review cycle to targeted measures, such as withholding structural funds from countries with severe infringements of the rule of law.  

In 2022, following civil society calls for the EU’s rule of law reporting to take into account the non-implementation of judgments from the two key European courts - the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)  - the EU Commission has included this type of data from the ECtHR in its annual rule of law report. This development allowed the EU to capture longer-term problems with the rule of law across all Member States, which had previously been overlooked. Find our report from last year here.

This report reflects the fact that the non-implementation of judgments of the European Courts continues to be a systemic problem. Some 40% of the leading judgments of the European Court of Human Rights relating to EU states from the last ten years have not been implemented. Each of these judgments relates to a significant or structural problem in the laws or practices of states, often with direct consequences for many citizens. Incidental cases of non-compliance with CJEU judgments have been a long-standing fixture of the European Union, with Member States occasionally being unwilling or unable to adequately put the rulings of the court in practice. Since 2020, an increasingly dangerous trend of a direct challenge to the authority of the court by Member States has emerged.''

You can register here

Thursday 8 June 2023

Call for Papers for the European Human Rights Law Conference 2023

From 28-29 September 2023, the 2023 European Human Rights Law Conference is being held at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law. The theme of the conference is 'Human Rights: Prospects, Possibilities, Fears and Limitations'. Keynotes include Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, Professor Conor Gearty KC, Dr Elaine Webster and Lady Brenda Hale.

Here is a description of the call:

'Abstracts are invited from those at any career stage, and we welcome papers from academics, practitioners and those working for Non-Governmental Organisations as well as others. Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words and can address any aspect of the conference theme. Papers will be selected on the basis of merit and fit with the conference theme.

The deadline for the call for papers is 7 July 2023.

Please note that speakers will have to meet their own expenses and pay the conference fee. A limited number of fee-waivers may be available and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Proposed sessions and themes for the conference include:


- The role of courts in human rights adjudication
- The strengths and weaknesses of written rights documents
- The future of the ECtHR, the ECHR and the European Social Charter
- The utility of the international rights framework
- Critiques of human rights
- Backsliding on rights in domestic systems and in the international rights framework

Specific rights issues

- Climate change and human rights litigation
- Reproductive rights
- Technology, Artificial Intelligence and human rights
- Migrants' rights
- LGBTQI+ rights
- Race, ethnicity and rights
- Health and rights
- Animal and environmental rights
- Domestic abuse and rights
- Workers' rights

Jonathan Cooper OBE Early Career Prize

The Jonathan Cooper OBE Prize for the best paper by an early career scholar or professional will be awarded at the 2023 conference dinner. Those who are eligible and wish to be considered for the Prize should indicate this by ticking the relevant box in the electronic application system and by submitting a full written version of their paper by 15 September 2023. The paper must be unpublished and not under consideration for publication (unless it is under consideration with the European Human Rights Law Review) at the time of submission. The Prize will be awarded on the basis of the written paper submitted. The prize-winning paper will be published in European Human Rights Law Review and will receive a monetary prize.

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

Anyone who:
a. is studying for, but who has not yet been awarded, a doctoral degree in Law; or
b. was awarded a doctoral degree in Law on or after 1 September 2018; or
c. was appointed to their first full-time academic or professional position on or after 1 September 2018.

Career breaks and caring commitments, and the impact of Covid-19 will be taken into account in determining eligibility


A small selection of the papers presented at the conference as well as keynote presentations may be published in a special issue of the European Human Rights Law Review.'

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Conference on the EU's Accession to the ECHR

On 14 and 15 July, the University of Liverpool is organizing a conference on the European Union's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The conference will discuss the proposed accession agreement and its implications for both the EU and the ECHR.

Here is a description of the event:

''As the latest negotiations on EU accession to the ECHR inch closer to a successful conclusion, this conference will explore the proposed accession agreement as well as the future opportunities and challenges facing both the EU and the ECHR legal orders.

Our first panel will analyse the framework for accession. Will the new accession agreement do enough to satisfy the CJEU that the autonomy and special characteristics of EU law are respected? What particular problems are likely to arise for the EU institutions, e.g. when it comes to determining the allocation of responsibility also with the Member States? And what might accession mean for the ECHR itself, particularly during a period of significant geopolitical change across Europe – from Brexit to the war in Ukraine? Our second panel will consider certain cross-cutting themes in EU and ECHR law – not only the future of the existing Bosphorous doctrine on liability for EU acts that infringe the Convention, or the particular difficulties involved in ensuring the proper scrutiny of territorially and institutionally fragmented executive power; but also major doctrinal practices where the two systems adopt approaches that deserve to be compared and contrasted, e.g. when it comes to defining and assessing the “margin of appreciation”, or the application of European fundamental rights standards to autonomous private action. Our final panel offers more detailed case-studies of how EU law and ECHR law might converge or diverge in their treatment of major socio-economic challenges, as well as the potential to engage in processes of mutual learning that enrich the legal heritage of European fundamental rights, e.g. in fields such as data protection, or migration, plus the “rule of law” crisis in states such as Poland and Hungary.

Attendance at the conference can be either in-person or online via Zoom. Either option is free, but each requires registration. Please note: there is an upper limit on the number of in-person participants we can accommodate, so please only register to attend in-person if you are firmly committed to visiting us in Liverpool!''