Monday 10 June 2024

New ECHR Readings

Please find below a new selection of recent writings, articles and other, about the European Convention on Human Rights and its Court:

* Fleur van Leeuwen, ‘Epistemic Blind Spots, Misconceptions and Stereotypes: The Home Birth Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights’, European Journal of International Law (2024):


‘This article offers a critical feminist reading of the home birth jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The aim is to shed light on the gender sensitivity of the Court in its legal reasoning and knowledge production. Since its first decision on the permissibility of a blanket de facto home birth ban in the case of Ternovszky v. Hungary in 2010, the Court has given five judgments on the matter, including a Grand Chamber decision in the case of Dubska and Krejzova v. Czech Republic. The author finds that the Court applies an overtly restrictive obstetric narrative of childbirth without situating its controversial epistemic basis. In doing so, the Court reinforces a rationale that is linked to loss of agency and disempowerment of persons in childbirth and reproduces harmful stereotypes. The article highlights bias in knowledge formation and (re)production at the Court in addressing cases of home birth. The findings in this article add to feminist inquiries of international human rights adjudication, specifically in regard to knowledge formation, knowledge production and stereotyping as well as to literature on the Court’s gender sensitivity.’

* Kumush Suyunova, ‘Human Rights Restrictions Prompted by the COVID-19 Pandemic: Uncertainties and Differences in the Practice of ECHR Parties’, Yearbook of International Disaster Law (2022).


The newest edition of the European Yearbook on Human Rights (2023, published in 2024), edited by Philip Czech, Lisa Heschl, Karin Lukas, Manfred Nowak and Gerd Oberleitner, ialso includes number of ECHR-related contributions:


* Irene Sacchetti, ‘Planetary Justice, Human Rights and the ECHR: Advancing Alternative Onto-Epistemologies to Face Climate-Related Challenges’ (Intersentia 2024):


‘Injustices driven by climate change as a result of human ecological destructive activities have become of a planetary level, impacting on the rights of present and future generations, humans and non-humans. The analysis of human rights law through the lens of planetary justice, a conceptual framework which demands an expanded vision of justice beyond borders, across generations, and for non-humans, reiterates the inability of existing human rights law to deal with the intertemporal and interspecies dimensions of climatic harms. This contribution evaluates developments in the context of the Council of Europe (CoE), including the filing of the first climate cases before the European Court of Human Rights, and the push for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment. In doing so, it argues that, despite these steps forward, human rights law remains inefficient to address intergenerational dimensions of justice in the context of climate change . As an attempt to overcome intrinsic obstacles of human rights law deriving from its Western orientation, the contribution explores the potential of informing the interpretation of human rights norms with alternative onto-epistemologies, to ultimately pollinate human rights with alternative ways of thinking. This may provide a way to navigate the unprecedented challenges posed, by climate change, to the human rights legal framework.’


* Tomasz Sroka, ‘The Positive Obligations of States to Protect the Climate or the Environment as Part of the Protection of Human Life and Health under the European Convention on Human Rights’ (Intersentia 2024):


‘The purpose of this contribution is to analyse whether and how the protection of a clean environment or the climate can be realised through the positive obligations of states to protect human life and health that can be derived from Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The contribution includes an attempt to reconstruct the rights to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in environmental matters, as well as the scope of states’ obligations in the field of adaptation and mitigation of climate and environmental risks, as a precondition for the adequate and sufficient protection of human life and health. The thesis of the contribution is that the concretisation of states’ positive obligations within the above scope requires taking into account both the general principles of interpreting obligations to protect human life and health in the context of environmental hazards, and the specific criteria for determining what specific actions, in specific factual circumstances, the state is obliged to take in order to fulfil its obligations under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR. The contribution also presents a catalogue of the most important interpretation principles and specific criteria of the concretisation of states’ positive obligations.’


* Clara Zimmermann, ‘Is the European Convention on Human Rights Equipped to Tackle the Plastic Crisis in the Mediterranean Sea?’ (Intersentia 2024):


‘Plastic pollution constitutes a complex and severe problem of global scale. As plastic debris accumulates in nature, it increasingly finds its way back to humans through the food chain, the water and the air, with unknown consequences for human health, as well as for terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Additionally, it contributes significantly to the progressive deterioration of the planetary resources, affecting the enjoyment of human rights. The interdependence of human rights and environmental protection is largely recognised by international, regional and national legislation and case law. However, the relation between the human rights legal regime and the environmental legal regime is not straightforward on a dogmatic level. This contribution explores this connection with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in relation to marine plastic pollution of the Mediterranean Sea.

To this end, the contribution summarises the state of the current academic debate, and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, on the environmental dimension of recognised human rights, the procedural environmental human rights, and the human right to a healthy environment , with regard to the ECHR. Drawing on scientific assessments of the impacts of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and humans, as well as on evolutions in international human rights law, the contribution explores arguments in favour of a state duty to protect against environmental harm caused by plastic pollution , under the ECHR, as well as conceptual challenges for the integration of environmental protection within the existing, intrinsically anthropocentric European human rights framework. Bridging environmental law and human rights law, the contribution further proposes a substantive content of a human right to a healthy environment, in respect of healthy oceans, under the European human rights regime, following the concept of ‘good environmental status’ rooted in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.’


* Annick Pijnenburg, ‘Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia: Taking Stock of the Latest Developments in the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction’ (Intersentia 2024):


‘On 25 January 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, Court) issued its admissibility decision in Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia . This inter-state case concerns events in the Donbass area of eastern Ukraine, which began in the spring of 2014, including the downing of flight MH17. It is a landmark decision for many reasons, including the Court's approach to extraterritorial jurisdiction . Indeed, the Court used this case as an opportunity to clarify its general principles regarding jurisdiction, and it is likely to become the leading case on extraterritorial jurisdiction for years to come. More specifically, when formulating the general principles on jurisdiction, in Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia, the Court takes into account recent developments in its case law. Accordingly, this contribution examines to what extent the admissibility decision in Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia succeeds in incorporating recent developments in the ECtHR's case law into a coherent framework on jurisdiction. It first briefly recalls the main trends in the ECtHR's case law, across landmark cases such as Banković and Al-Skeini, before examining recent relevant ECtHR case law on extraterritorial jurisdiction. The contribution then discusses in detail the Court's approach to jurisdiction in Ukraine and the Netherlands v Russia . It thus shows that Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia can be seen as an ‘update’ of the general principles in Al-Skeini. It also confirms that, overall, the Court's case law continues to move in the direction of a more expansive and granular understanding of jurisdiction.’


* Lorenzo Acconciamessa, ‘The Case Law of the ECtHR in 2022: Strasbourg in the ‘Age’ of Protocol No. 15’ (Intersentia 2024):


‘This contribution analyses the developments in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in 2022. This is the first year aft er Protocol No. 15, which, inter alia, introduced an express reference to the principle of subsidiarity and the doctrine of margin of appreciation into the Preamble of the European Convention on Human Rights, entered into force. Therefore, although the increased relevance of subsidiarity and margin of appreciation in the Court's approach to the interpretation and application of the Convention is not a new trend, it seems that it can provide an appropriate lens through which the relevant case law developments should be assessed. In light of the above, the contribution examines (some of) the relevant ‘key cases’ decided by the Court in 2022, and tries to highlight the relevance of the above-mentioned principle and doctrine in the identification of the scope and content of the obligations imposed on the domestic authorities by the Convention, as well as in the determination of the nature and scope of the Court's review over compliance with such obligations.’