Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Happy 60th Anniversary, European Court of Human Rights: Celebrating (with) Protocol 16 Advisory Opinion and Infringement Proceedings

By Aikaterini Tsampi| A.Tsampi@rug.nl

This year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR/Court) turned 60. To celebrate this occasion at the University of Groningen, the “ECtHR Evenings” were organised at the Faculty of Law – Department of Transboundary Legal Studies. In the framework of four “ECtHR Evenings” sessions, which took place between April and May 2019, UG LLB students researched, read and reflected on the recent (2019) ECtHR case-law under the supervision of dr. Aikaterini Tsampi. While many cases were discussed during these sessions, the present blog contribution will focus on the outcome of two proceedings that have already marked the 2019 judicial activity, if not the entire history, of the Court.

On 10 April 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, under Article 1 of Protocol No. 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR” or “Convention”). Shorty thereafter, the Grand Chamber delivered its judgment in Proceedings under Article 46 § 4 of the Convention in the case of Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan. Continue reading


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The Origins of Transitional Justice

By Marcos Zunino

Wherever there are allegations of serious human rights violations or international crimes, from Syria, to Venezuela, to Myanmar, calls for transitional justice follow. They involve implementing a policy for dealing with these violations that may include criminal trials, truth-finding initiatives, reparations programmes, vetting of personnel, and state reform efforts. These mechanisms are meant to pursue the transitional justice elements of justice, truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence while paying special attention to the needs and views of victims. Transitional justice has thus emerged as the primary framework for responding to widespread violence. Indeed, ours has even been called the ‘era of transitional justice’. When did this idea of a need to respond to mass violence with this particular toolbox and goals appear? Continue reading


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The Universal Declaration at 70: What Next for Human Rights?

This post is a summary of the keynote lecture given by Professor Gearty during the workshop ‘The Universal Declaration at 70: What Next for Human Rights?’ on 26th November 2018. The event was co-organised by the Groningen Journal of International Law and the University of Groningen’s Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalisation.

Professor Conor Gearty 

How serious are current threats to the post-war international order of which the protection of human rights is such a central part?

Three potential challenges in particular come immediately to mind.  

First there is the outright rejection of the very idea, with states organizing themselves formally around systems of rule in which individuals are allowed to be explicit casualties of passing state interests.  Of course, not even the worst states put it quite like this, and with the passing of the era of the Cold War no substantial ideology sets its face against human rights in quite this explicit way: indeed, not even the Soviet Union did so at its height, preferring a different version of human rights (economic and social rights) to having none at all.

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My office – my rules?

By Tina Korošec | korosec.tina1@gmail.com

Spending on average more than 40 hours a week at work means that my office colleague is by default the person I see most. I keep my sports gear and medical prescriptions in the office drawer and my planner and pictures of people I care about on the desk. I have a YouTube playlist I listen to at work. In short, my workplace is very home-like and my home is often the office for the weekend.

I am not here to judge whether this lifestyle evolution should be welcomed or rejected but I believe the blurring of divisions between the professional and personal should be observed with due caution. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) recognised the difficulties in distinguishing the two and the problems with drawing the lines of human rights protection artificially in the Niemietz v. Germany case, holding that the protection of ‘private life’ under the Convention extends to the workplace. In recent years, the Court has developed considerable case-law on a broad range of workplace-related issues relevant to employees in Europe, who are often unfamiliar with the protection of their rights offered by the Convention. This blog post discusses two aspects of employers’ restrictions on employees in the workplace: dress code and surveillance. Continue reading


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The Horizontal Effect of International Human Rights Law

By Lottie Lane |c.l.lane@rug.nl

This blog post summarises some of the main findings of the author’s PhD thesis, entitled ‘The Horizontal Effect of International Human Rights Law: Towards a Multi-Level Governance Approach’. The findings are taken from an extensive comparative analysis of the extent to which international human rights law is applied to non-State actors (i.e. the horizontal effect of human rights) in jurisprudence at the international, regional and national levels.

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Strategic Litigation Before the African Regional Courts: Great Potential for Progressive Protection of Human Rights

By Nani Jansen Reventlow |hello@nanijansen.org  

The African human rights system is the youngest regional human rights regime currently in operation. The adoption of the in 1981 also resulted in the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1987. The African Commission was charged with the protection and promotion of human and peoples’ rights and the interpretation of the African Charter. In 1998, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted, thereby establishing a complementary counterpart to the Commission that could issue binding decisions.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been operational since 2006 and issued its first judgment on the merits in 2013. According to a recent press release, the Court has received 161 applications (for both individual decisions and advisory opinions) to date, of which it has finalised 32. Thirty countries have ratified the Protocol, giving the Court jurisdiction to assess these States’ compliance with the African Charter. Of these 30, eight countries have an active declarationRwanda’s declaration was withdrawn in 2016 – allowing individuals and NGOs to bring such matters directly before the Court (as opposed to accessing the Court via the African Commission). In recent years, the court has handed down decisions protecting the right to free expression, the right to a fair trial, the right to life and land rights, amongst others.

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The Right to Housing and its Applicability to Asylum Seekers in Europe

By Mareike Hoffmann | s.m.hoffmann@student.rug.nl

Despite its crucial importance for emotional and physiological well-being, the right to housing is often treated as a ‘poor cousin’ in comparison to other necessities.[i] Pointing out the emerging trend to limit the right to housing, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Housing has gone as far as naming it as ‘one of the most endangered rights.’ Asylum seekers are especially at risk of having their right to housing restricted since they essentially rely on the state for the provision of housing. Following the influx of asylum seekers to Europe since 2015, the issue of accommodating them adequately persists to this day. Nevertheless, the right to adequate housing is part of the right to an adequate standard of living and thereby included in a wide array of international human rights instruments. Within this blog post, I aim to identify the relevant human rights provisions applicable to asylum seekers and subsequently analyse the flaws of the current system.

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