2 October 2018

Workshop ‘Responding to Legitimacy Challenges: Opportunities and Choices for the European Court of Human Rights – Researchers meet the Court’

Montaigne workshop Straatsburg

Many challenges confront the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and its procedures, policies and judgments. Criticism concerns the Court’s backlog, its methods of interpretation, its deference to domestic actors – or its lack thereof. Reactions from states include willful partial non-compliance with judgments or even principled resistance. These challenges have appeared in many different shapes: not just as criticism from State Parties’ governments, but also from domestic courts, academics, civil society organizations and the media.

Exchanges among academics and members of the Court

Against the backdrop of these challenges, Janneke Gerards and Antoine Buyse of the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Administration of Justice and the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights co-organised a workshop at the ECtHR on 21 September. The aim was to facilitate informal exchanges among academics and members of the Court including the Registry and to identify and discuss both challenges and possible solutions. They organised the workshop together with Andreas Føllesdal and Geir Ulfstein (PluriCourts Centre, University of Oslo), Eva Brems (Human Rights Centre, Ghent University) and Basak Çali (Hertie School of Governance).

Lively debates with the audience

During the workshop, eight legal and interdisciplinary research papers were presented, selected out of 93 submitted abstracts, in sessions concerning the principle of subsidiarity and legitimacy challenges; dialogue and relations with national judges; and remedies and compliance with judgments. In each session, one of the Court’s Judges commented on the presented research and there were lively debates with the audience (Chatham House rules applied). The day was closed by a panel discussion of ‘keynote listeners’: the Court’s head of the legal division of the Registry and three Judges reflected on the findings of the workshop, based on what they had heard throughout the day.

Because of the quality of the papers and the intimate setting, the workshop was highly enriching for both the researchers presenting their papers and the Judges. Given the many benefits, it is likely that the ‘dialogue’ between the academic world and the Court is continued as a yearly or two-yearly event.