Wednesday, 21 October 2020

ECHR Articles in Newest HRLR

The September 2020 issue of the Human Rights Law Review (vol. 20, issue 3) has now been put online. These are the ECHR-related articles:

* Mathieu Leloup, 'The Concept of Structural Human Rights in the European Convention on Human Rights':

'This article introduces the concept of structural human rights in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights. It starts from the observation that the current understanding of human rights obligations does not account for all the effects that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have in practice. To comply with their obligations under the Convention, States Parties may be required to modify their very institutional architecture. The article argues that this is a consequence of structural human rights. These are fundamental rights that, when enforced, may impose structural obligations, requiring changes to a State's governmental structure. The article offers a theoretical underpinning of the concept and indicates the benefits of understanding Convention rights also in a structural way. Furthermore, the notion is conceptualised further by way of an overview of several strands of case law, demonstrating the way in which Convention rights can develop their structural nature and what kind of structural effects they may have.'

* Daley J. Birkett, 'Asset Freezing at the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights: Lessons for the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Security Council and States':

'This article examines the human rights implications of the asset freezing processes available to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Security Council. It does so through the lens of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, from whose jurisprudence, although not uniform, a number of principles can be distilled. By scrutinising a series of cases decided under the European Convention on Human Rights and American Convention on Human Rights, respectively, the article demonstrates that the rights to the peaceful enjoyment of property and to respect for one’s private and family life, home and correspondence are necessarily implicated by the execution of asset freezing measures in criminal and administrative contexts. The article concludes that, considering the human rights constraints placed on the exercise of their powers, both the International Criminal Court and United Nations Security Council, as well as States acting at their request, must pay attention to this case law with a view to respecting the human rights of those to whom asset freezing measures are applied.'

* Ergul Celiksoy, 'Execution of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Prisoners’ Right to Vote Cases':

'This article examines the responses from Austria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, the UK and Turkey to the Court’s rulings on prisoners’ right to vote and discusses whether or not they have complied with them, as recognised by the Committee of Ministers. To this end, it first provides a brief overview of prisoners’ right to vote under the ECtHR’s jurisprudence. Thereafter, it explores what reforms have been made by these six countries in order to execute the ECtHR’s judgments in prisoners’ right to vote cases and discusses whether these reforms can be considered sufficient to satisfy the ECtHR’s criteria with which they must comply. It concludes that the closures of prisoners’ voting rights cases concerning Austria, Georgia and Romania are positive since they have effectively executed the Court’s judgments in their domestic jurisdictions. However, the article argues that the Committee of Ministers has erred in closing its examination of prisoners’ right to vote cases against Russia, the UK and Turkey, because the structural problems of prisoners’ disenfranchisement have not been solved in these countries due to the retention of disproportionate restrictions imposed on convicted prisoners’ voting rights.'

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Online Conference on Covid-19 and the European Convention on Human Rights

On 16 and 17 October 2020 there will be an online conference on Covid-19 and the European Convention on Human Rights. Speakers include a long list of sitting and former judges of the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and academics working on the Convention system. The full agenda is available online. The registration link is here. The event will be translated live in Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian and Macedonian. 

The conference is part of the Seventh Regional Rule of Law Forum for South-East Europe and is hosted by Civil Rights Defenders and The Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE). 

Below is the description of the conference by the organisers:

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest global crises since World War II. Governments all over the world have taken unprecedented measures to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic and to limit the dangers posed to life and health. It is also the first time in the history of the Convention that many Member States have been affected concurrently by the same exceptional crisis situation, and by one which affects so many Convention rights. 

The pandemic has engaged States’ positive obligations to protect life and health, whilst the measures such as lockdowns which were implemented to try to contain the pandemic and protect health have interfered with numerous other Convention rights. For example, the closure of courts, schools, places of worship and hospitality venues has raised issues under the right to a fair trial, education, freedom of religion and peaceful enjoyment of property, whilst restrictions on movement and gatherings interfered with the rights to freedom of movement, expression, association and free elections.  

Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic raises novel legal questions and new challenges regarding how to balance the multiple rights at stake. There is, therefore, no doubt that a range of Convention rights cases related to the pandemic will soon land on the desks of national and international judges. As the nature and impact of the pandemic continues to evolve, it is also likely that judicial responses to these questions will help to shape States’ responses to the pandemic going forward. It is therefore essential that those dealing with questions relating to the pandemic understand what the ECHR requires of Member States in such a context. Not only will this help to ensure a human rights compliant response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will also impact on the development of longer-lasting human rights norms in the field of public health and help to condition the effectiveness of human rights law in emergency situations for the foreseeable future. An understanding of existing, relevant ECtHR case law can help provide the keys to overcome new challenges and provide a useful framework within which to address new legal questions. 

The Forum will provide an opportunity to reflect on how existing ECtHR case law may be applied to the novel legal questions and factual situations which have arisen in the context of the pandemic. It will bring together experts in the field to discuss the extent of the positive obligations which Member States might be under, and when exactly such obligations might arise. The Forum will also facilitate conversation regarding the main threats to human rights which have arisen in the context of the pandemic and provide an opportunity for participants to share their insights into best practice solutions to these challenges based on their experience dealing with the pandemic so far. As always, the Forum will encourage collaboration between participants to develop solutions on how to manage the challenges which they continue to face and/or which may arise in the future.'

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Guest Post: Negotiations on EU Accession to the ECHR Restart after Five Years: Between Unlikely and Doable

By Dr. Fisnik Korenica, assistant professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at University of Prishtina and Co-Founder of the Group for Legal and Political Studies. He is author of the monograph The EU’s Accession to the ECHR, Springer 2015. 
The accession of the European Union (EU) to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been a heated debate for a long time. Academic and political motives have led several authors to write about this development from a number of perspectives. A significant amount of literature has attracted the interest of lawyers on numerous characteristics of the mechanics of accession. 
A Council of Europe working group (WG) has just recently restarted the negotiation process on a new draft agreement on EU’s accession to the ECHR. One must recall that although the project of accession has been discussed for several decades, a final draft accession agreement was only finalized in April 2013. It was envisaged as a shared agreement that tackled the concerns raised by EU member states around the withdrawal of sovereign competencies. The design of the agreement met with various criticisms, the vast majority of them relating to concerns over the external and internal autonomy of EU law. A co-respondent mechanism, namely a tool for joint attribution of responsibility between the EU and its member states, was designed to bridge this gap whenever a violation of the ECHR would originate in an action or omission of the national authorities authorized or mandated by EU law (but not only). The draft agreement also envisaged inter-party complaints and did not bar the EU from acceding to future protocols of the ECHR, such as Protocol 16. 
In December 2014, the story of the draft accession agreement was brought to a sudden halt by Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The CJEU found several aspects of the draft agreement problematic from the perspective of EU law. The CJEU concluded that certain aspects such as the possibility of the EU to accede to Protocol 16, the blurred relationship between Art. 53 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Art. 53 ECHR, the equal treatment of the EU as a respondent hand in hand with member states, the controversial relationship between Art. 344 TFEU and the inter-party mechanism foreseen in the draft agreement, the prior involvement mechanism, the co-respondent mechanism, etc., were altogether incompatible with EU treaties. Considering that such problematic traits were too heavy to be addressed by the negotiating teams, no solution was seemed in sight. And indeed the process had been stalled until very recently.
The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) ad hoc negotiation group restarted its negotiations in September 2020, meeting for the first time since a final draft agreement was concluded in 2013. It is convened with the understanding that a new negotiation process that addresses the concerns of Opinion 2/13 should take place. One can speculate that the motive after the call from the European Commission (EC) to restart negotiation of a new draft agreement at this point in time is impacted by the credibility losses which the EU faced after Brexit. The EC seemingly sees the accession project as a gain for EU’s strategic action in international fora. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms. Pejčinović Burić, and the EC's Vice President for Values and Transparency, Ms. Jourová, indicated on this occasion that:

‘[ECHR] represents everything that the Council of Europe and the European Union stand for. In these difficult times, the resumption of these crucial negotiations sends a strong signal about the commitment of our two organisations, and our member states, to the fundamental values that we cherish. We very much hope that the negotiations can be brought to a speedy and successful conclusion for the benefit of Europe as a whole.’

The decision to reconvene followed the request by the EC and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to set new terms of reference for the new negotiation process in 2020. The first meeting of the WG was held between 29 September and 2 October 2020, where numerous technical issues were discussed. A major point of consideration was the ‘Paper to structure the discussion at the 6th negotiation meeting’, which set a framework for the new negotiating process. The document was not released to the public, yet transcripts of the meeting reveal the main points it raised: namely, the four categories of issues noted in the paragraph below. The Paper, however, does not offer anything substantial in regards to solutions that would resolve the existing controversy surrounding the reasonableness of the accession project and the far-reaching requirements following from Opinion 2/13. It merely underlines what Opinion 2/13 had concluded, indicating aspects for which a new negotiation and/or design would have to be engineered.

Four additional major issues were discussed in the first meeting of the WG. First, general issues of EU-specific mechanisms for the procedure before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); second, the inter-party mechanism and the possibility for domestic judges to ask for an advisory opinion under Protocol 16 ECHR; third, the principle of mutual trust between EU member states in the view of Art. 53 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and Art. 53 ECHR; and, fourth, the jurisdictional immunity of the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy in procedures before the ECtHR. The European Commission reiterated that it does not require a privileged status for the EU in proceedings before the ECtHR. However, it maintained that some accents would have to be enhanced in the draft agreement for it to comply with Opinion 2/13. It further ‘recalled its determination to accede to the ECHR. It recalled that accession did not require to negotiate a new Accession Agreement, but rather to make some specific amendments to the already existing agreement whilst preserving its underlying balance.’ There is no specific information on the elements that would manifest these new requirements. One can assume that baseline documents will not be provided unless there is a new final draft agreement approved by the WG.

Commenting the future of this endeavour, Mr. Giakoumopoulos, the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law at the Council of Europe, stated that:

‘[a] revised Accession Agreement will naturally have to be regarded as a compromise package which eventually must be acceptable to all negotiation partners. Indeed, this is a matter of great political importance for today’s Europe. A strong political support in all European capitals will be, therefore, the key to deliver.’

A follow-up meeting of the WG is set for 24-27 November 2020, and there is no draft agenda available as of now.

One can observe that the first meeting of the WG was followed with a positive attitude towards the utilitarian necessity for a new draft agreement. Parties were generally open for a new negotiation process and maintained the need for further consensus to make the project of accession possible. However, little to no discussion that substantively engaged with the core questions of Opinion 2/13 and their plausibility in the light of a new draft agreement took place. It is difficult to estimate whether a proper new negotiation process will succeed. Chances are really slim that the far-reaching requirements of Opinion 2/13 would ever be consented by the 47+1 members of the WG. It is even more unlikely that, even if there is a consensus among negotiators, a draft agreement reflecting that momentum would ever have the support of all national legislatures in the ratification process. However, the November meeting of the WG will inform us more on the substance and will shed more light on the likelihood for success of this restarted negotiating process.

Friday, 9 October 2020

New ECHR Readings

Please find below a new selection of recent reading on the European Convention on Human Rights and its Court:

* Jonathan Collinson, 'Making the best interests of the child a substantive human right at the centre of national level expulsion decisions', Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol. 38, no. 3 (2020):

'The best interests of the child has become an central facet of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in expulsion cases. This article argues that the indirect application of the best interests of the child as an interpretive benchmark for Article 8 ECHR is not the end point of State’s responsibilities under Article 3 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This article argues that the ECtHR’s case law presents significant limitations in the subject matter scope of the best interests of the child, and limitations to the way in which it incorporates them into the Article 8 ECHR balancing exercise. This article acts as a thought experiment by modelling an alternative mode of decision-making. It asks what the best interests of the child might look like as the substantive human right at the centre of decisions about the expulsion of foreign nationals.'

* Marcelle Reneman, 'Forensic medical reports in asylum cases: The view of the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee against Torture', Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol. 38, no. 3 (2020):

'National authorities are often reluctant to arrange for a forensic medical examination or to grant important weight to forensic medical reports in asylum cases. They do not (fully) accept that a forensic medical report may change their initial assessment of the credibility of the applicant’s asylum account. They may argue that a physician cannot establish the context (date, location, perpetrator) in which the alleged ill-treatment has taken place or the cause of a specific scar or medical problem of the applicant. Moreover, they may contend that the physician concerned did not have the expertise to write a forensic medical report. 

This article examines how the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Committee against Torture (CAT) have included forensic medical reports in their assessment of asylum cases and how they have dealt with the ‘context’, ‘causality’ and ‘expertise’ argument. It shows that these bodies do not accept that national authorities refrain from arranging a forensic medical examination or attach no or limited weight to a forensic medical report submitted by the applicant, just because the applicant has made inconsistent, incoherent or vague statements. They also do not accept general references to the ‘context’, ‘causality’ and ‘expertise’ argument. However, they have accepted these arguments in some individual cases, often without clear reasoning. The article concludes that the ECtHR and CAT could provide more guidance to national authorities concerning the role of forensic medical reports in asylum cases by explicitly weighing the seriousness of the credibility issues against the forensic medical report and by paying attention to the requirements for forensic medical reports laid down in the Istanbul Protocol.'

• Mikael Madsen, ‘Two Level Politics and the Backlash against International Courts: Evidence from the Politicisation of the European Court of Human Rights’, iCourts Working Paper Series 2020, no. 209:

'Are international institutions more prone to face backlash politics than domestic ones? Are international institutions easy targets for satisfying domestic political interests? Using the case of the recent criticism of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the article explores whether international institutions are more susceptible to face backlash politics than domestic ones due to the dual nature of international politics. The empirical study, focusing on the reform of the ECtHR through the 2018 Copenhagen Declaration, suggests that pre-existing commitments to international institutions might be given up rapidly when significant domestic interests collide with international institutions and their practices. The analysis, however, also shows that backlash politics against international institutions is transformed when seeking institutional reform. Entering a collective bargaining process, backlash objectives are changed by the logic of diplomatic negotiation, academic scrutiny and the interests of the other member states and civil society. This suggests that the two-level logic of ordinary international politics has a mediating effect on domestically fuelled backlash campaigns.'

Caption: The photo is of a graffiti bookshelf in the city of Utrecht, where SIM is based, made by visual artist JanIsdeMan.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Strasbourg Court issues interim measures against Turkey regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Since 27 September 2020, the long-frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up again and has taken a high death toll.

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights issued an interim measure against Azerbaijan in a case lodged by Armenia. The Court called both parties to the conflict to secure the Convention rights and refrain from any military actions. Since then, however, the conflict has only escalated. Furthermore, reports suggest of the risk of involvement of other States, including Turkey in support of Azerbaijan. Against this background, on 6 October 2020 the ECtHR has issued another interim measure in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, this time against Turkey in a case lodged by Armenia. The Court “now calls on all States directly or indirectly involved in the conflict, including Turkey, to refrain from actions that contribute to breaches of the Convention rights of civilians [sic!], and to respect their obligations under the Convention.” The interim measure suggests that Turkey could be either directly or indirectly involved in the conflict.

In the past years, we have seen an increase of requests for interim measures in inter-State and other frozen conflicts in Europe. The Court has issued numerous interim measures in relation to the conflicts in Ukraine and the Caucasus. The practice suggests that in relation to such conflicts, States have a scarce record of complying with interim measures. Although interim measures are provided only in Rules of the Court, the Strasbourg Court has held that failure to comply with them leads to a breach of the Convention. 

The wider the scope of an interim measure, it seems, and the higher the stakes for states, the less likely that the measures will be complied with. And as a consequence of that same wide scope (here "actions that contribute to breaches of the Convention rights"), it will be also much more contentious at a later stage to assess whether the interim measure has been complied with. Potentially another context in which the Court is dragged into a variety of 'lawfare' between states, rather than being able to stick to its roles of providing individual justice and constitutional-type interpretation of the Convention.

Kushtrim Istrefi and Antoine Buyse

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

International Online Conference on Youth, Climate Change and the European Court of Human Rights

The University of Tampere in Finland, together with the Finnish Human Rights Centre, is organising an international conference on Youth, Climate Change and the European Court of Human Rights on Friday 27 November from 14:00 to 17:00 (EET = UTC +2 time zone). Fitting to the theme and these current times, the conference will be an online event and thus with a lower carbon footprint. This is what the conference will be about:

'The first applications made by youth on climate change are currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights. The Youth, Climate Change, and ECtHR conference will bring together environmental and human rights scholars, practitioners, and young people to reflect and debate on the current topics in the field of environmental human rights and youth climate litigation. The goal is to contribute to the dialogue between academic community and civil society, especially the youth of environmental activists who want to hold States responsible for their failure in protecting the environment, an omission that has been threatening human rights.

The Conference’s format is devised to facilitate reflections and provoke the debate among panelists with the contribution of the audience. The panels will be organized by themes, and the experts will address questions sent by the active youth who are seeking significant change and urgent actions needed to stop the climate crisis. The audience online will also be able to contribute to the conversation by sending questions and comments directed to the panelists.

PANEL I - Environmental Rights as Human Rights

14:00 – 14:15

Opening statements

Sirpa Rautio, Director of the Human Rights Centre

Jukka Viljanen, Professor of Public Law, Tampere University

Young people’s message

14:15 – 14:30

Keynote: David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment

“Climate change & human rights and the role of youth”

14:30 – 15:30

Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne, Associate Dean for Faculty and Intellectual Life, Professor of Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law

Kari Kuusiniemi, President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland

Bradlie Luisa Ana Martz-Sigala, Research Assistant (CCEEL), University of Eastern Finland

Nicole Onnela, Chair of UN Youth of Finland

Questions by students from Tampereen lyseon lukio high school “Eurooppalinja”

15:30 – 15:45


PANEL II - International Trends in Climate Change, Courts and Youth participation

15:45 – 16:00

Keynote: Dr. Daphina Misiedjan, Assistant Professor, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam

“The Dutch experience (Urgenda case) and the potentials of the ECtHR in environmental cases”

16:00 – 16:50

Gerry Liston, Legal Officer at Global Legal Action Network

Heta Heiskanen, Secretary-General of the Climate Panel, Ministry of the Environment of Finland

Päivi Hirvelä, Former Judge of the ECtHR, Judge in the Finnish Supreme Court

Milka Sormunen, PhD student, University of Helsinki

Ellen Ojala, Climate activist, Climate youth delegate

Questions by students from Tampereen lyseon lukio high school “Eurooppalinja”

16:50 – 17:00

Closing of the conference: conclusions and final statements'

You can register for the conference here.

Monday, 28 September 2020

New Book on the European, Inter-American and African Human Rights Courts

A new book by professor Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne) traces and evaluates the histories and common threads running through the work of the world's three regional human rights courts. This comparative volume, written in French, and published by A. Pedone Publishers, is entitled Les 3 Cours régionales des droits de l’homme in context. La justice qui n'allait pas de soi [freely translated: The three regional human rights courts in context. Justice that was not self-evident]. One of the first monographs, written by one of France's key ECHR experts, extensively delves into the bigger picture of how the three regional courts came about, which challenges they faced and how in spite of very different regional socio-political contexts and historical trajectories, they are confronted with similar issues and dilemmas. This is the abstract: 

'Cet ouvrage a pour ambition de présenter la création et le fonctionnement des 3 Cours régionales des droits de l’homme qui se trouvent à Strasbourg, San José et Arusha. Incontestablement éloignées par un ensemble d’éléments d’ordre politique, juridique et sociologique, ces trois juridictions sont pourtant reliées par des éléments matériels et des questionnements communs indiscutables.

Matériellement, leurs textes de références sont arrimés à la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme du 10 décembre 1948. Les préambules respectifs de la Convention de sauvegarde, de la Convention américaine et de la Charte africaine insèrent, en effet, le Régionalisme dans le cadre plus général de l’Universalisme. Quant aux questionnements qui les traversent, ils sont marqués de façon irréductible par des dynamiques convergentes. Les 3 Cours doivent s’assurer, en permanence, de l’acceptation par les Etats, tant de leur existence que des lignes majeures de leur jurisprudence ; doivent inciter aux transformations de leurs systèmes respectifs afin qu’ils puissent s’adapter à différents types de contraintes ou à l’inverse freiner toute tentative d’affaiblissement de leur office ; trouver l’équilibre entre la simple « sauvegarde » des droits et libertés d’un côté et leur « développement » de l’autre, en ayant en ligne de mire les principes fondateurs de leur office et la réparation des préjudices subis par les victimes.

Comparer de façon dynamique les mécanismes de la garantie régionale des droits de l’homme, en utilisant les outils de la science juridique, mais également en mobilisant les ressources de l’histoire, la science politique et la sociologie, permet de rappeler que la Justice des droits de l’homme ne va pas de soi. En dépit de l’extraordinaire développement du droit international des droits de l’homme après le « moment 45 », la garantie régionale n’a jamais été une option politique naturelle pour les Etats. Les 3 Cours sont nées dans la douleur, ont évolué en ordre dispersé, et n’ont de cesse de remplir leur mission de protection dans des contextes politiques souvent complexes où les souveraines puissances ne se laissent jamais aisément brider.'

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Submitting Guest Posts to the ECHR Blog

Dear ECHR Blog readers, as part of our announced renewal and expansion, we have now added a new item to the blog. For many years, this blog has received guest posts of eminent academic colleagues. We are now more explicitly inviting fellow academics to submit ECHR-related guest posts to this blog, to represent the multitude of voices in the research community focusing on the ECHR. To help and guide you if you are interested to submit a guest blog post, we have now formulated guidelines, to be found below in this post and as a permanent page in the menu of this blog. We are looking forward to your contributions!

Antoine Buyse and Kushtrim Istrefi

Guidelines for contributions to the ECHR Blog

The ECHR Blog is an academic blog and thus aims to publish academic contributions of both theoretical and practice-oriented importance. We welcome unsolicited submissions (guest posts) of high-quality pertaining to the ECHR system from academics (and, by exception, practitioners). We particularly welcome submissions addressing:

The case-law of the ECtHR, particularly if they concern new developments. 

New developments related to ECHR rights, procedures, principles and concepts.

New developments within the Council of Europe institutions as well as other international organizations that directly relate to the ECHR system.

The case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union when it relates directly to the application of the ECHR, or is directly relevant for ECtHR case-law.

By exception, national judicial, legislative or political developments that have a significance for the Convention system and can be of interest to an international audience.

Any other original contribution related to the ECHR developments.

We also welcome book symposiums related to recent publications on the ECHR.

The review process: the editors aim to reply within two working days. However, at times this may take longer. Following a review by the editors, authors may be asked to revise their submission. The initial or revised submission may be accepted or rejected for publication at the editors’ discretion. A submission may be rejected if, inter alia, i) it does not fit the scope of the blog substantively, ii) it does not meet the required quality and focus of analysis, iii) the author does not present balanced arguments, uses defamatory language, and/or is directly involved on the matter discussed in the submission (e.g. a lawyer representing a case before the ECtHR), and/or iv) an issue has already been extensively published upon on this blog or other outlets and/or does not add much in terms of substance or analysis or is no longer topical.

Length: 1200-1800 words. Longer posts may be accepted but authors may be asked to divide it in two parts. 

Style: Use Times New Roman size 12, single spaced and single line between paragraphs. Headings may be used at the author’s discretion.

Language: Submissions must be written in British English. They must be of good quality in terms of grammar and spelling.

Hyperlinks instead of footnotes: Use hyperlinks instead of footnotes when referring to any sources and other materials.

Image for the blog post: You are free to recommend an open-source image to be used for the guest blog.

Author’s biography: Please indicate your title, name, surname and institutional affiliation (and insert a hyperlink to your institutional profile page, where applicable).

Submissions must contain the subject line ‘ECHR Blog: Submission’ and must be sent to: a.c.buyse at and/or k.istrefi at .

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Online (and in-Person) Conference on Human Rights and Environmental Protection and the ECHR

On 5 October 2020, the European Court of Human Rights is hosting on its premises a conference on Human Rights and Environmental Protection. The conference will also be streamed online. The registration is open until 25 September. The full programme can be accessed here. Below is the description of the conference: 

'How to address human rights class-actions stemming from large-scale environmental pollution? Where to draw the line between a policy decision within the State’s margin of appreciation and a State’s failure to strike the right balance between conflicting interests? Whether to allow legal standing to applicants who vindicate collective and intergenerational rights? Ought the Court rely on the precautionary principle and adopt a new causation test in applications concerning global warming? Or should it rather refrain from taking up the role of Europe’s climate change tribunal? In the event violations are found, what measures of redress and prevention should be imposed on Member States? How to ensure better State compliance? 

Meaningful answers to these questions call for a general and conceptual reflection on the role of international human rights tribunals in reviewing Member States’ efforts to comply with their obligations under the environmental law to mitigate and adapt to the effects of the climate crisis and to stop nature’s degradation. 

The conference … aims at facilitating a debate between renowned practitioners and academic experts in the field of international environmental law and human rights.'

Monday, 21 September 2020

New Edition of the Book Freedom of Expression and the Internet by Benedek and Kettemann

Wolfgang Benedek and Matthias C. Kettemann have just published the second edition of the book Freedom of Expression and the Internet (Council of Europe). The second edition comes at a time when most of us express, receive, engage with, and create ideas and opinions in and through internet platforms. The book is available in print and pdf. Here is the publisher’s summary of the book: 

'Human rights matter on the internet. Without freedom of expression, people cannot participate in everything that the information society has to offer. Yet online free speech is in danger. Between state laws, private rules and algorithms, full participation in the online communicative space faces many challenges. This publication explores the profound impact of the internet on free expression and how it can be effectively secured online. 

The second, updated edition of this introduction into the protection of freedom of expression online answers essential questions regarding the extent and limits of freedom of expression online and the role of social networks, courts, states and organisations in online communication spaces. In clear language, with vivid examples spanning two decades of internet law, the authors answer questions on freedom of expression in cyberspace. Addressing issues from the protection of bloggers to the right to access online information, the publication also shows the importance of the standard-setting, monitoring and promotion activities of international and non-governmental organisations and includes a chapter on relevant national practice. It pays special attention to the role of European human rights law and the Council of Europe as this region’s most important human rights organisation.'