The Paradox
of the European Convention
of Human Rights
25 April 2017
Sakharov Centre
19:00 - 21:00
The lecture is of interest for:
Are you a student of international law? Do you see yourself defending human rights or working for one of the large international juridical organisations? Have you ever thought about the paradoxes and difficulties that one of the most successful human rights treaties in the world is going through?
The wider public
Human rights have been widely discussed in various contexts: migration, civil society and emancipation, among others. It concerns every individual, society, state, as well as the relations between each of these actors. In this lecture you will learn about a major international institution that defends human rights.
Are you active in the fields of international law and human rights? Have you ever had difficulties applying supranational law at the national level? Would you like to know more about ECHR argument techniques?
Researchers and professors
The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) is facing one if its biggest paradoxes, so, how should it be handled? Join the conversation to share your knowledge and expertise with colleagues from the Netherlands.
Main topics
Lecture will be in English without translation
Success of the European Convention of Human Rights
The European Convention of Human Rights is one of the most successful human rights treaties in the world. Over time, it has been signed and ratified by 47 European states. In many of these states, the Convention has been incorporated into national law and its provisions are regularly invoked before national courts. Many of these courts directly apply human rights standards developed in the case-law of the Convention's supervisory body, the European Court of Human Rights. In response to European and national judgments, national legislation and policy often changes to make it compatible with the Convention. In cases where domestic remedies do not provide adequate solutions plaintiffs can bring complaints before the European Court of Human Rights, which offers individual redress if violations are found to exist.
The Challenges Ahead

Human rights problems exist all over Europe, including abhorrent prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, torture, limitations of the freedom of expression or assembly, discrimination and unfair trials. Individual plaintiffs lodge more and more applications at the European Court of Human Rights every year. With just a small staff to deal with an influx of 50,000 or more complaints each year, the Court is overburdened. Efforts have been made to reduce its caseload by setting strict requirements for complaints and by dismissing up to 90 percent of cases without closely examining their merits, despite the obvious judicial quandaries that poses. Moreover, problems exist regarding execution once judgments are handed down. Although compensation is usually paid to individual victims, political will and capacity are often lacking to tackle the underlying structural human rights problems. Indeed, several states have indicated that they hardly feel inclined to follow up on the Court's judgments, since they can be difficult to reconcile with national views and constitutional traditions.
The Paradox of the Convention System – How to Make Improvements?
Thus, the Convention system shows a complex paradox – it can be seen in the overall level of protection of human rights in Europe, in the degree of acceptance of Court judgments by the states and in the impact of these judgments on national law. The main question is how to deal with this paradox? In answering this question, the lecture will examine the historical rationales underlying the system, the concept of human rights and the role of the Court's argumentative techniques.
Janneke Gerards
Professor of Fundamental Rights Law at Utrecht University at the Institute for Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law.

Gerards holds a designated chair in Utrecht University's research programme 'Institutions for Open Societies' and is a fellow at the Human Rights School of Research (SIM). Since 2015 she has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her activities outside the university include serving as a deputy judge in the Appeals Court of The Hague and as a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs.
The research conducted by Janneke Gerards focuses on fundamental rights, equal treatment under the law, judicial review and comparative public law. The interrelation of the European Convention on Human Rights, EU law and national law plays a central role in her research.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 19:00
Sakharov Centre
ul. Zemlyanoy Val 57, str. 6
The lecture is organized in cooperation with
Sakharov centre and
MA programme "Political philosophy and social theory"
The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
Tilda Publishing