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.'

Friday, 18 September 2020

Registration for the European Human Rights Moot Court Competition is Now Open

The European Human Rights Moot Court Competition (EHRMCC) is a Europe-wide moot court competition dedicated to the European Convention on Human Rights. It was founded in 2012 by the European Law Student Association and the Council of Europe. 


The Competition simulates the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights based on a fictional case. This year, the fictional case very much resembles the reality in which we live in, raising issues of state of emergency during an epidemic, protests against such measures, and State’s use of facial recognition technologies to identify those allegedly violating emergency measures. 


The registration of teams for the Competition is now open until 1 November 2020. As of last year, all teams must first compete at the regional level. The best 18 teams from the regional rounds compete in the final round in Strasbourg, in the Palace of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. In addition to the experience that students gain from the Competition, all members of the winning team are invited for a traineeship at the Strasbourg Court. 


Good luck to all those participating in this year’s Competition!


As this is my first post as a co-editor, I avail myself of this opportunity to express how honored I am to join the ECHR Blog, and grateful to Antoine Buyse, as a founder and editor of this Blog, for his trust in me. 
I always considered this Blog as an important platform to keep those interested in the ECHR abreast of the ever-increasing developments related to the Convention system and engage in discussion of those developments. I join the ECHR Blog with the aim to further serve that goal.


Best wishes, Kushtrim Istrefi


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Expanding the ECHR Blog - A New Face


Dear readers of the ECHR Blog, this blog is about to expand and renew! As some of you will know, keeping up a blog can be quite a daunting - yet very enjoyable - task. After more than 12.5 years and more than a 1000 posts of keeping up this blog all by myself since I founded it in May 2008, I am very happy that as of this week, this blog has an additional editor, my SIM colleague dr Kushtrim Istrefi. 

Kushtrim Istrefi is an assistant Professor with the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) at Utrecht University. He holds a PhD from the University of Graz. His research focuses on the intersections of fundamental rights law and international security, with an emphasis on the ECHR. He has published on, among others, states of emergency, targeted sanctions, counter-terrorism, judicial activism and secession. Next to his academic work, Kushtrim has litigated complex cases on the right to life, prohibition of torture and the right to fair trial before the European Court of Human Rights and the EULEX Human Rights Review Panel. He also provided legal opinions to the Kosovo Constitutional Court and Kosovo Parliament on Kosovo-Serbia agreements. He was also a visiting researcher at the European Court of Human Rights itself. He is in the editorial board of the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review and coaches Utrecht University Law School's European Human Rights Moot Court Competition team. 

I am very happy to add such a committed expert on the ECHR 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. Kushtrim, welcome on board! 

Dear readers, in the coming time we will incrementally implement more changes - so please keep an eye out for new things!

Kind wishes, Antoine Buyse

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Online Conference on 70 Years ECHR

Next week, on Thursday 17 September 2020, the Institute of International and European Union Law of the Law School of Mykolas Romeris University in Lithuania is organizing an international e-Conference on '70 years of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: challenges and prospects'. You can register for it here. This is what the conference is about:

'The Conference is intending to mark the 70th anniversary of the European Convention of Human Rights, highlighting its crucial role as one of the key international and European judicial instruments.

The Convention is a living instrument, to be interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights in the present-day conditions (see, among other authorities, Vallianatos and Others v. Greece [GC], nos. 29381/09, 32684/09, § 84); an evolutive interpretation of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the text of the Convention enables necessarily the Court to take into account new technological and societal developments and changes that were unforeseeable 70 years ago. One of such nowadays challenges is the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the effectiveness of the Convention rights protection at national and international level during the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant challenge for majority of European States, including Lithuania. 

The conference aims to create a platform for international scholars and practitioners, human rights activists and governmental bodies to participate in a discussion on the effective protection of human rights and a special role of the ECHR.'

Friday, 4 September 2020

New Session of MOOC on the ECHR

This coming Monday 7 September our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled 'Human Rights for Open Societies. An Introduction into the European Convention on Human Rights' will kick off again with, due to the pandemic, a big new group of prospective online students. You can still enroll, for free, if you would like to join! The course will run again for six weeks. This is what the course is about:

'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!'

You can watch the introductory video here:

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Guest Post on Court President's Visit to Turkey

Today a short guest post on the visit of the president Robert Spano of the European Court of Human Rights to Turkey, which has led to a lot of discussion in the Turkish human rights community. The Court's President amongst others met with the Turkish president, and according to the Court's own website, he "recalled the principles set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. He stressed the importance of the rule of law and democracy and in particular in those contexts the need to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression. Where the Court found a violation of the Convention, States were under a clear obligation to comply with that ruling and draw the necessary consequences. This was central to the effective functioning of the Convention system within the Council of Europe." This is the guest post:

Harry Hummer, senior policy adviser, Netherlands Helsinki Committee

'The visit of European Court of Human Rights president Robert Spano to Turkey today and tomorrow is big news in the country. Human rights defenders and victims of repression are concerned that he is given an honorary doctorate by one of the universities that summarily fired for political reasons a large number of academics after the July 2016 coup attempt. This issue has not been taken up by the Court yet – complaints have been referred back to a widely criticized Turkish appeal procedure – but in all likelihood will be in future.

The IHD, one of the oldest Turkish human rights NGOs, issued an open letter to Spano, expressing surprise that they had heard about the visit only from media reports and wondering why there are no civil society visits included in his programme.   

In addition to the honorary doctorate ceremony, Spano also spoke with high level Turkish government and judicial officials, and gave a speech at the Justice Academy.'

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Special Issue ECHR and Wider International Law

The International Journal of Human Rights has published a special issue (vol. 24, issue 7, 2020) with a focus on 'the Relationship Between the European Convention on Human Rights and Wider International Law'. Most of the articles were published online earlier on already separately (some almost two years ago), but they are now bound together by an editorial. These are the contents:

* Geir Ulfstein , Morten Ruud & Andreas Føllesdal, Editorial: The European Convention on Human Rights and other parts of international law.

The ECHR and General International Law

* Geir Ulfstein, Interpretation of the ECHR in light of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

* James Crawford & Amelia Keene, Interpretation of the human rights treaties by the International Court of Justice.

* Helen Keller & Reto Walther, Evasion of the international law of state responsibility? The ECtHR’s jurisprudence on positive and preventive obligations under Article 3.

The ECHR’s Relations With Other International Human Rights Regimes 


* Vibeke Blaker Strand, Interpreting the ECHR in its normative environment: interaction between the ECHR, the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the UN convention on the rights of the child.

The ECHR and EU Accession

* Tonje Meinich, EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights – challenges in the negotiations.

* Martin Kuijer, The challenging relationship between the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU legal order: consequences of a delayed accession.