In my first post on the Draft Copenhagen Declaration I limited my focus to the first part of the same, highlighting the overarching philosophy of the Draft. I now offer some broader comments (still focussing on the first half of the Declaration).
The general narrative of the Draft Declaration is that ’improved protection’ will be obtained by achieving ‘better balance’, in terms of the distribution of powers which the Draft proposes to endorse, which involves an emphasis on Strasbourg’s mainly residual role.
That fits with the various speeches made by members of the Danish government, which preceded publication of the Draft. It is well known, however, that the backdrop was one of political frustration with, and criticism of Strasbourg by the Danish government. Going back, concern was expressed about the ‘living instrument’ doctrine, and general criticism directed at Strasbourg law, especially in relation to immigration matters (and, in particular, a domestic case constraining deportation, which obtained some notoriety). Some of the speeches allude to this.
As such, it is valid to at least ask questions about the inspiration for the Draft Declaration, and its ‘better balance’/ ‘improved protection’ agenda.
- Has the Danish government’s (to some extent, politically-inspired) frustrations with the Convention clouded its assessment of what needs to be done, and is that reflected in the content of the Draft (without questioning the good faith nature of the initiative overall)?
- As such, to what extent is the Draft Declaration a genuine contribution to the reform debate, of enduring significance, as it purports to be?
I respectfully suggest that, if the Draft Declaration is to fit more comfortably with the second of these, then the emphasis, tone and message communicated by it needs reconsideration. Why? Continue reading
Denmark’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe will conclude in April. It is likely to be remembered for the critique representatives of the Danish government have offered of the European Court of Human Rights’ functioning. The relevant speeches, delivered in the Council of Europe context, may be found here. The narratives are reflected to varying degrees in a Draft ‘Copenhagen Declaration’, published in early February, in anticipation of a final version, which is expected in April (12/13th).
That Draft has attracted much attention. A consortium of NGOs issued a strong and detailed critique of it (see here, and see too, comments by the Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights). Few aspects of the Draft are viewed positively, the analysis offering emphatic criticism of it, and calling for significant changes. Contributions from Phillip Leach & Alice Donald, and Andreas Follesdal & Geir Ulfstein, also strike a mainly negative chord.
Mikael Rask Madsen & Jonas Christoffersen adopt a more upbeat tone citing the Court’s own Opinion on the Draft (although see Leach & Donald’s response). The latter’s Opinion is less hostile/defensive than the critics might have expected, but this may reflect the Court’s desire to retain its distance and neutrality, although the Opinion does not avoid expressing caution and concern for some aspects of the Draft.
This post is the first of two.
In this post, I comment in the overarching philosophy of the Draft Declaration. In the second I offer my thoughts and comments on the same, asking whether the goal of a stronger ECHR system is being realised by the Draft Declaration. Continue reading
I am presenting a paper on ‘UK Principled Resistance to Strasbourg – a new Paradigm?’ today, at the University of Konstanz (see here for details of the Conference).
For ease of reference here is a Draft copy [ Ed_Bates_Konstanz_Country_Report_UK] of the paper (plus Powerpoint Ed Bates Konstanz relevant to the same).
This post proceeds on the assumption that the Conservatives will win the June election, with their manifesto commitment that withdrawal from the ECHR (‘BrECHRit’) will not occur in ‘the next Parliament’. It is submitted that such a scenario poses a threat, but also offers a window of opportunity. The threat is that there will be a continuation of what we have seen since around 2012 (if not before): the implied threat to withdraw, and heated anti-Strasbourg rhetoric every time UK-Strasbourg relations come under strain (with damaging effects on the ECHR). The opportunity is that we now have a period to push forward the case for the UK’s continuing membership of the ECHR, based on careful and informed analysis of the Strasbourg system as it functions today (not one based on dated or false narratives) and affects the UK. This information can then be drawn upon for when debate on the UK’s membership of the ECHR resurfaces, which, I contend, is highly likely to happen – unless arguments are presented in a convincing way to stop that.
With the Conservative Party well ahead in the opinion polls, the publication of their manifesto today was met with a sighs of relief by human rights lawyers in the UK, and in Strasbourg. It states that: Continue reading
Thank you very much indeed to the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (working with Leicester Law School) for hosting a highly interesting and informative event on the state of play regarding execution of Strasbourg judgments. The event was last night, and, I believe, a summary will appear on the Bingham web site in due course.
Merris Amos (QMUL) presented a insightful paper focussing in UK cases, against the backdrop of UK-Strasbourg relations and the domestic landscape of human rights protection; in her paper Eleanor Hourigan (Dep Permanent Representative, UK Delegation to the CoE) offered some insiders’ perspectives on the Committee of Ministers’ process ; Nuala Mole (Aire Centre) provided reflections on her long experience as a Strasbourg litigator, offering some suggestions on areas for improvement; and Prof Philip Leach EHRAC/ Middlesex University added to those perspectives with some important and graphic illustrations of why the process of execution is so important, and the challenges being thrown up.
In between I presented a paper with my own reflections on matters, especially with an eye to the Committee of Ministers’ 2016 Annual Report on the execution of judgments. In case it is of interest, here is the PowerPoint presentation that I used: E Bates Implem Judgments Bingham
On 15 May 2017, the Bingham Centre and Leicester Law School are organising an event in London, focusing on the implementation of the Court’s judgments.
Speakers at the event will discuss the UK’s record of implementation and the impact of the Court’s judgments in the UK. They will consider the UK government’s recent report ‘Responding to Human Rights Judgments’ which outlines its position on the implementation of the Court’s judgments and responds to recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its 2015 scrutiny report ‘Human Rights Judgments’. We will also hear a UK government perspective “from the inside” on the Committee of Ministers and its work supervising the execution of judgments.
Speakers will then consider the wider picture of implementation across the member states and will reflect on the process for the execution of judgments and the role of the Committee of Ministers in this regard.
Further details of the event, including the speakers can be found here: https://www.biicl.org/event/1258
Download the event flyer.
There was a very interesting event yesterday at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, on the topic of ‘Adjudicating Rights’. Professor Kate O’Regan opened and chaired the event, which included presentations from Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque (European Court of Human Rights) and from Professor Jeff King (UCL). It was an excellent event, very thought-provoking and well received by a good audience in attendance. The event was ‘videoed’, so hopefully we can look forward to seeing that on the web, and perhaps my stumbling question to the panel will appear on it – or be edited out!
The reason I wanted to write this post is as follows. Often when attending events like yesterday’s I ask a question related to the limitations on the Court’s jurisdiction and authority. Sometimes I feel that such questions are perceived as an unpatriotic swipe at human rights, and the Strasbourg Court (which is certainly not my intention; indeed, quite the contrary, for I wish to see the Court preserve its authority, by it recognising the limitations that should (in my opinion) apply to it).
I make this point generally here, and not in relation to yesterday’s event, and, to be clear, at all events the speakers have always been extremely respectful and polite in their answers and generous with their time afterwards (as was so yesterday). Nonetheless, given the topic of yesterday’s event, which also touched on ‘separation of powers’, it seemed appropriate for me to write these thoughts down .
Here, then, are some thoughts Continue reading