Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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

By Mareike Hoffmann |

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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Contributions from the International Law Department of the University of Groningen to the 6th Conference of the European Association of Health Law

By Yi Zhang, University of   

On 28 – 29 September 2017, Professor Brigit Toebes, Dr. Marie Elske Gispen and Yi Zhang participated in the sixth annual conference of the European Association of Health Law (EAHL). The conference was organized by the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway in cooperation with the EAHL, and its theme was health rights regulations and the distribution of health care in Europe.

During the EAHL conference, Professor Toebes gave a keynote lecture entitled ‘International Human Rights Protection and the Distribution of Healthcare’. In her lecture, Toebes discussed the scope of the right to health care at the international, regional and domestic levels. Among other matters, she discussed the authoritative case law of the European Court of Human Rights. As seen in cases such as Sentges v the Netherlands and Vasileva v Bulgaria, the Court is increasingly engaging with health matters, touching in particular on the duty of the State to oversee the quality of healthcare services as well as possibilities for redress. Toebes explained that the right to health care as defined internationally does not provide a comprehensive set of standards when it comes to the distribution of health care. However, the so-called ‘AAAQ’ (i.e. availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality), for example, provides an authoritative set of principles that is increasingly applied in the context of healthcare distribution at the domestic level, as was also evidenced by the presentations from various participants at the conference (e.g. the presentation by Professor Hartlev on personalised medicine).  Continue reading

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Law of Peace(making) and Transforming Children’s Invisibility

By Sarah M. Field, Rights

The law of international human rights came into being through an international peacemaking process, in particular the successive processes that gave birth to the Charter of the United Nations. The law as developed affirms children’s legal standing and agency as subjects of human rights. There is a concomitant international obligation to affirm the same in relation to the successive processes of peacemaking and give effect to those rights through the resultant agreements, as recalled by treaty and Charter bodies. Yet children are mostly invisible in such processes. Its extent is laid bare by a cursory review of collections of peace agreements. Of the close to eight hundred peace agreements in the United Nations database, for example, approximately ninety-five include a reference to children. The extremity of their invisibility raises a multiplicity of questions. Is it justified from the perspective of the law of peace(making)? May children’s human rights yield to the pursuance of peace? And if not, why are children (mostly) invisible in peacemaking? These questions sparked and structured a probe of peace processes from a juristic, human rights and child rights perspective. Continue reading

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Building the New Gambia: Why We Should Vote for Women Candidates

From the Trenches: Practitioners’ Perspectives
Although our focus is on academic commentary, International Law Under Construction recognises that law does not exist in a vacuum. We have, therefore, decided to publish opinion pieces on an occasional basis. The first in this series of opinion pieces is by Madi Jobarteh, who has fought for human rights in the Gambia for over 15 years. This post, on gender equality in political representation, is particularly relevant given the Gambia’s upcoming parliamentary elections on April 6.

By Madi Jobarteh, The Association of NGOs (TANGO) | Email: | Tel: +31610198089 | Or on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

Since the historic UN conference on women in 1995 in Beijing there is a universal recognition that ensuring a just society with improved economic well-being for all requires a gender quota in decision-making institutions and processes. As women constitute more than half of the world’s population, yet remain the poorest, with the highest percentage of illiteracy and most politically disempowered, there is a need to include an increasing number of women in centres of decision-making on laws, resource distribution, and wealth creation. It was recognized that in most parts of the world, even in advanced democracies, women face discrimination and oppression in all spheres of life and society. This inequality is being perpetuated by culture, religion, and capitalism, hence, the imbalance between men and women. Continue reading