Disinformation or an Undemocratic Monster: Why the European Court of Human Rights is under attack in the United Kingdom?

On Monday, think tank Policy Exchange published a paper ‘Bringing Rights Back Home’ (available here), which advocates the UK withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.   Dr Başak Çalı has written a commentary on the paper which seeks to counter some of the myths put forward by the Policy Exchange.

Disinformation or an Undemocratic Monster: Why the European Court of Human Rights is under attack in the United Kingdom?

The Policy Exchange declared with fanfare this week that there is nothing that stops the United Kingdom pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights.  In fact, it was very simple: the UK only has to give six months notice.

This piece of information may be a huge surprise to think tank researchers. But perhaps the Policy Exchange should have given even bigger news to its audience – that the United Kingdom is free to pull out from any of its international law treaty obligations whenever it wants.  Given that the Policy Exchange singles out the most successful legal instrument in international law to date for criticism, a legal instrument that has made concrete advancements for human rights protection in the UK and elsewhere over the past sixty years, where is the real problem?

…read Basak’s full commentary here.

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Listening to Foreign Judges From Far Away Places

On 7 December 2010 Basak gave a lecture on the project and some preliminary findings, as part of University College London’s ‘Lunch Hour Lecture’ series.

The lecture is now available to view online by clicking this link.

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Workshop on the Enforcement of Judgments

Katarina, Basak, and Nicola at St. Mark's Church

Basak and Nicola attended a workshop on the Enforcement of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, held in Jezercica, Croatia, between 28-29 October 2010.  The event was organised by the Centre for Peace Studies, an organisation promoting non-violence and social change, linking it to education, research and activism.  The idea was to bring together NGOs and lawyers from across Croatia to learn about the enforcement of judgments and how they might collaborate to link strategic litigation with following up to ensure the judgment is implemented by the State.

Basak spoke about the role of lawyers and NGOs in the implementation process.   The workshop also included practical exercises on identifying implementation measures within the Court’s judgments, and a session on procedural matters and how NGOs and lawyers can in fact engage in the implementation process, led by Katarina Nedeljkovic of the Department for the Execution of Judgments at the Council of Europe.

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Forum for the Future of Democracy, October 2010

Anne participated in the 6th session of the Council of Europe’s Forum for the Future of Democracy in Yerevan, Armenia, on October 19-21.  Every two years, the Forum brings together a wide variety of participants from across the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to analyze the application of principles of democratic governance to contemporary political and societal changes.

Yerevan, Cascade and city centre

Contributing to this year’s overarching theme “Perspectives 2020” that focused both on the principles of democracy in Europe and on its challenges, Anne presented an issue paper entitled The impact of European human rights law and case-law on shaping democracy at the Forum’s working session on Law and Democracy.  The paper outlined the role of human rights law as a guardian of pre-democratic rights, as a tool for protecting non-citizens and marginalized groups, and as an instrument providing guiding principles for domestic decision makers.

Conference Session

Yuri Dzhibladze (President of the Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Russian Federation) acted as a discussant and initiated a lively and controversial discussion about challenges to the implementation of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights and related questions regarding the legitimacy of the Council of Europe.   Jan Borgen (Deputy Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists) and Krzysztof Drzewicki (advisor to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of International Law at the University of Gdansk) also participated in the panel that was moderated by Lina Papadopoulou (Assistant Professor for Constitutional Law at the University of Thessaloniki). The draft conclusions of the overall Forum are available online.

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The Impact of European Law and Case Law on Shaping Democracy

Basak has prepared a policy paper titled ‘The Impact of European Law and Case Law on Shaping Democracy’, which outlines the different ways European Human Rights law and case law have had an impact on shaping democracy, and goes on to identify conceptual and institutional challenges to this.  A copy of the paper is available online here.

The paper is part of the Council of Europe’s 6th Forum for the Future of Democracy, ‘Perspectives 2020 – Democracy in Europe: Principles and Challenges’, to be held in Yerevan on 19th and 20th October 2010.  The Forum was established in 2005 and aims to strengthen democracy and political freedoms and is open to all member states, and civil society.  It enables the sharing of ideas, information, examples of best practice, and discussion on possible future action.

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