Wednesday 28 February 2024

Call for Abstracts Workshop 75 Years Council of Europe

The University of Grenoble-Alpes is organising the workshop '
The Council of Europe: How to move forward after 75 years? The past, present and future of an international organisation in its seventies' in December 2024, with Anca Ailinca as convener. It has issued a call for abstracts, with 24 April 2024 as a deadline. The event will be hybrid: on-site and online, in English and French. Please find al information below:

'The Council of Europe will celebrate its 75th anniversary on 5 May 2024. Founded in 1949 as a response to the Second World War, it embodies the promotion and protection of European values, namely "human rights, democracy and the rule of law". The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) are its most remarkable and best-known achievements. So much so that the Council of Europe is often reduced to this essential but reductive aspect. In fact, countless other standards have been adopted under the auspices of this organisation. These standards, which are intended to permeate national legal systems, set the European standards for a common legal order.

In the 75 years of its existence, the Council of Europe has had to adapt to major changes in the political and geopolitical context in which it operates. The creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), followed by the European Economic Community and the European Union, has led it to reflect, with varying degrees of success, on its specific role within the European architecture. The dissolution of the USSR led to the swift, if not hasty, integration of a large number of Central and Eastern European countries willing to embark on a process of democratisation that is still ongoing. The massive enlargement of the Council of Europe has had many far-reaching consequences for its functioning and working methods. It has also had an impact on the European Court of Human Rights, which has seen a huge increase in the number of cases brought before it. The resurgence of populism, authoritarianism and nationalism since the 2010s has once again forced the Council of Europe to assess the effectiveness of its actions. The challenge is all the greater given the organisation's limited budget. This reflects a political disengagement on the part of its member states, which can also be seen in the fact that some of them no longer adhere to all European values and ostensibly refuse to implement Council of Europe standards, including the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. In this context, the Council of Europe has embarked on a major reform process, which is still ongoing. The armed aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine has once again changed the geopolitical context in Europe to such an extent that a fourth Summit of the Council of Europe was held in Reykjavik (Iceland) in May 2023.

To date, the Council of Europe has not been able to overcome the many challenges that have tested its effectiveness and even its legitimacy. This may be explained by the Committee of Ministers’ attachment to consensus, even though member states are often divided. Another explanation may be the perhaps disproportionate weight given to geopolitical considerations. All this leads to a political timidity that can sometimes give the impression that member states rely too much on the European Court of Human Rights. However, the Court is not able to overcome structural challenges on its own. 

The aim of the workshop is to make a critical assessment of the Council of Europe's achievements and working methods, to analyse the main challenges it faces and to outline ways of addressing them. It is important to note that the focus of the event will not be on the ECHR and the ECtHR, although the topic will be on the agenda.

Contributions can come from any discipline. They may take a general, cross-disciplinary approach or focus on a particular institution, country or issue. Proposals from young scholars (PhD students and post-doctoral researchers), as well as non-academic contributions and those based on empirical studies are welcome. Proposals that deal exclusively with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, without placing the subject in the wider context of the Council of Europe, will not be considered. We invite original proposals, as we aim to explore publication options, after peer review.

By way of illustration, and without claiming to be exhaustive, contributions may cover the following topics:

General and institutional aspects
- How constructive are relations between different organs of the Council of Europe; how can synergies be strengthened?
- The reform of the Council of Europe: an appropriate quest for efficiency?
- Should the Council of Europe set more focused priorities? Too many partial agreements?
- The Venice Commission, the Commissioner for Human Rights or the monitoring bodies: how to increase their effectiveness?
- How can the execution of judgements of the European Court of Human Rights be improved?
- Is the Council of Europe a credible player in the European institutional architecture?

Substantive aspects
- The vices and virtues of the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental standard-setting work (e.g. choice of topics, working methods, links with the European Union's standard-setting work)
- The European Social Charter and the Revised Social Charter: is the Turin Process sufficient?
- The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)
- The Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention)
- How can torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment be effectively prohibited in practice?
- What role can the Council of Europe play in environmental protection?
- What is the added value of the Council of Europe in the field of Artificial Intelligence?
- How to overcome political reticence on issues such as migrants’ rights or LGBTQI+?
- Can the Council of Europe protect political prisoners, including those in Russia and Belarus?
- The vices and virtues of joint European Union/Council of Europe programmes

Geopolitical approach
- The implications for the Council of Europe of a future enlargement of the European Union
- The Council of Europe's relations with specific states (e.g. the Russian Federation, Turkey, Azerbaijan)
- The Council of Europe and (frozen or military) conflicts in Europe

Funds are available to cover travel and accommodation costs for workshop participants, where necessary. If this is the case, please include a reasoned request with your proposal.

Timetable and submission procedures

24 April 2024: Submission of a 1,000-word abstract, in French OR English. Authors are requested to include their full name, title and functions, as well as the institution(s) with which they are affiliated. Authors are also encouraged to mention any difficulties they may have in following the debates in French AND English. Projects can be submitted to: 

31 May 2024: Response after blind evaluation by the Scientific Committee

10 November 2024: all selected participants will be invited to submit the written version of their contribution before the conference.

Week of 2 to 6 December 2024: Workshop in Grenoble'