Dr Kushtrim Istrefi is Assistant Professor of Human Rights Law and Public International Law at Utrecht University and alternate member of the Venice Commission. He is part of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) and the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law (Ucall).
Kushtrim has a general interest in the ECHR and its intersection with international law and security. He has published on a wide range of topics, such as states of emergency and derogations, the right to life and prohibition of torture in peacekeeping operations, UN targeted sanctions and security detentions, counter-terrorism, statehood, accession to international organisations, jurisdiction, the law of treaties, and judicial activism. He is currently working on an interdisciplinary project titled 'A Quantitative Textual Approach of the European Consensus Method of Interpretation in the European Court of Human Rights', and co-editing a Compendium to the European Convention on Human Rights, the first comprehensive book to feature over 300 entries on ECHR legal notions. Kushtrim serves on the editorial board of the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review and the ECHR Blog.
At Utrecht University, he has undertaken numerous senior level responsibilities. He is the chairperson of the Law School's Education Committee (OC) of the master programmes, and co-directs the LLM in Public International Law. He was in charge of designing a new track/specialisation on Conflict and Security of the LLM in Public International Law and has co-founded the International Law in Practice Seminar Series. He is involved in the supervision of LLM theses and PhD students.
Previously, he taught at the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, the VU University Amsterdam, the Riga Graduate School of Law and the University of Prishtina. Kushtrim was a visiting fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law of Cambridge University, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University, the Max Planck Institute for International Law and the European Court of Human Rights. He holds a PhD from the University of Graz, LLM from the Riga Graduate School of Law and LLB from South East European University.
Next to academic work, Kushtrim has advised States and non-State actors on issues related to peace, human rights and international law. Since May 2022 he serves as (external) chief legal advisor to Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the accession of Kosovo to the Council of Europe. Furthermore, as a Senior Peace Fellow with Public International Law and Policy Group (a global pro bono law firm based in Washington DC) he has been involved in different peace projects in relation to Southern Cameroons, Ukraine, Sudan and Nagorno Karabakh. He has also been involved in litigation of high-profile cases. He has successfully litigated the first case of enforced disapearence before the EULEX Human Rights Review Panel, served co-counsel in Stichting Mothers of Srebrenica v the Netherlands and Subašic and Others v the Netherlands before the European Court of Human Righs, provided legal advice on the cases cocerning the murder of journalists before the People's Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists, contributed to a third party intervention before the Strasbourg Court on the 'Academics for Peace Case', and submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Kosovo Constitutional Court in the case concerning the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities.