New article on Transitional Justice in the Former Yugoslavia

Gentian Zyberi and Jernej Letnar Černič have published article on “Transitional Justice Processes and Reconciliation in the Former Yugoslavia: Challenges and Prospects”, Nordic Journal of Human Rights, Volume 33, Issue 2, 2015. Here is the abstract :

This article aims to assess the achievements and challenges facing the transitional justice processes that have taken place in the countries most affected by the armed conflicts resulting in the violent dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and whether, and to what extent, these processes have furthered inter-ethnic reconciliation. The two variables used for this purpose are the scope of individual criminal accountability for war crimes and the scope of reparations provided to victims of the armed conflicts occurring throughout the 1990s and in the early 2000s. The following analysis combines an assessment of relevant international and domestic efforts. Thus, first, the article analyses the impact of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY or tribunal) in the transitional justice processes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia or BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia), Serbia, and Kosovo. Over the last 20 years the tribunal has investigated and prosecuted a considerable number of individuals for mass atrocity crimes. Subsequently, the focus shifts to assessing the domestic efforts surrounding the prosecution of war crimes and awarding of reparations for victims of the armed conflicts in these countries. The article argues that lack of sufficient coordination and close cooperation between international stakeholders and a general reticence on the part of the national authorities to engage meaningfully with past wrongs have resulted in a situation where many perpetrators of war crimes remain unpunished and individual victims have barely received any reparations. The article holds that for the ongoing transitional justice processes to meaningfully further inter-ethnic reconciliation in the republics emerging from the former Yugoslavia, continued legal reforms and a pluralistic public discourse, which embrace a strong focus on the rights of victims of war crimes, are necessary.

Monday’s Readings

Steven Ratner, Europe’s Anti-Business Stance, The New York Times, 29 January 2015.

Jontathan Calt, Not a very P.C. Thing to say, New York Magazine, 26 January 2015.

Drago Jančar, Ni mi vseeno za svet, ki sem ga pomagal ustvarjati, Pogledi, 25 January 2015.

Manuel Jabois, ¿Tú otra vez, Grecia?, El Pais, 31 January 2015.

John Micklethwait, The case for liberal optimism, The Economist, 31 January 2015.

Pablo Iglesias: “Sé que la televisión quema, quizá habrá que revisar alguna estrategia”, La Vanguardia, 31 January 2015.

Monday’s Readings

Raffi Khatchadourian, A Century of Silence. A family survives the Armenian genocide and its long aftermath, New Yorker, 5 January 2015.

Slavoj Žižek, Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity?, New Statesman, 10 January 2015.

Ahmed Burić, Kako biti Charlie in Ahmed ?, Pogledi, 20 January 2015.

Lenart J Kučič, Internet nevtralen kot javno cestno omrežje?, 10 January 2015.

Editorial, Un reto para Europa, El Pais, 26 January 2015.

New book on “Transitional Criminal Justice in Post-Dictatorial and Post-Conflict Societies”

9781780682600Agata Fijalkowski and Raluca Grosescu have co-edited a new book on “Transitional Criminal Justice in Post-Dictatorial and Post-Conflict Societies” (Intersentia, 2015). Here is its abstract :

This volume considers the important and timely question of criminal justice as a method of addressing state violence committed by non-democratic regimes. The book’s main objectives concern a fresh, contemporary, and critical analysis of transitional criminal justice as a concept and its related measures, beginning with the initiatives that have been put in place with the fall of the Communist regimes in Europe in 1989.

The project argues for rethinking and revisiting filters that scholars use to interpret main issues of transitional criminal justice, such as: the relationship between judicial accountability, democratisation and politics in transitional societies; the role of successor trials in rewriting history; the interaction between domestic and international actors and specific initiatives in shaping transitional justice; and the paradox of time in enhancing accountability for human rights violations. In order to accomplish this, the volume considers cases of domestic accountability in the post-1989 era, from different geographical areas, such as Europe, Asia and Africa, in relation to key events from various periods of time. In this way the approach, which investigates space and time-lines in key examples, also takes into account a longitudinal study of transitional criminal justice itself.


Weekend readings I

DSC_6833Today, Esohap is introducing a new weekly section with recommendations for weekend human rights – related readings in several languages. Here is the first selection :

Tom Popper,  Communism is dead, but its spirit lives, Budapest Business Journal, 14 November 2014.

Ondrej Ditrych, Remembering Havel’s dream, EU Observer, 17 November 2014.

Václav Havel, Out of unity, discord, Index on Censorship, 1994 23: 59.

Matt Trevithick, Daniel Seckman, Heart of Darkness: Into Afghanistan’s Taliban Valley, Daily Beast, 15 November 2014.

Joaquin Villalobos, La paz: cerca de La Habana, lejos de Bogotá, El Pais, 20 November 2014.

Tamara Griessar Pečar, Kjer je zid, vztrajajmo, da pade, Časnik, 20 November 2014.

Rick Lyman, Oligarchs of Eastern Europe Scoop Up Stakes in Media Companies, New York Times, 26 November 2014.

Marko Milanović, The Bottom Line of Jaloud, EJIL: Talk, 26 November 2014.

Jernej Letnar Černič, V iskanju Evrope, Ius Info, 28 November 2014.

Posner on the Twilight of Human Rights Law

Eric A. Posner (University of Chicago Law School) announced on his blogdownload that Oxford University Press will be this November publishing his new book on “The Twilight of Human Rights Law”. Here is its thought-provoking abstract :

Countries solemnly intone their commitment to human rights, and they ratify endless international treaties and conventions designed to signal that commitment. At the same time, there has been no marked decrease in human rights violations, even as the language of human rights has become the dominant mode of international moral criticism. Well-known violators like Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have sat on the U.N. Council on Human Rights. But it’s not just the usual suspects that flagrantly disregard the treaties. Brazil pursues extrajudicial killings. South Africa employs violence against protestors. India tolerate child labor and slavery. The United States tortures.

In The Twilight of Human Rights Law--the newest addition to Oxford’s highly acclaimed Inalienable Rights series edited by Geoffrey Stone–the eminent legal scholar Eric A. Posner argues that purposefully unenforceable human rights treaties are at the heart of the world’s failure to address human rights violations. Because countries fundamentally disagree about what the public good requires and how governments should allocate limited resources in order to advance it, they have established a regime that gives them maximum flexibility–paradoxically characterized by a huge number of vague human rights that encompass nearly all human activity, along with weak enforcement machinery that churns out new rights but cannot enforce any of them. Posner looks to the foreign aid model instead, contending that we should judge compliance by comprehensive, concrete metrics like poverty reduction, instead of relying on ambiguous, weak, and easily manipulated checklists of specific rights.

With a powerful thesis, a concise overview of the major developments in international human rights law, and discussions of recent international human rights-related controversies, The Twilight of Human Rights Law is an indispensable contribution to this important area of international law from a leading scholar in the field.

New book on Kadi case

9780415640312Matej Avbelj, Filippo Fontanelli, Giuseppe Martinico have recently co-edited a book on “Kadi on Trial – A Multifaceted Analysis of the Kadi Trial” (Routledge 2014).  Here is the abstract :

The judgment of the European Court of Justice concerning the Kadi case has raised substantive and procedural issues that have caught the attention of scholars from many disciplines including EU law, constitutional law, international law and jurisprudence. This book offers a comprehensive view of the Kadi case, and explores specific issues that are anticipated to resonate beyond the immediate case from which they derive.

The first part of the volume sets out an analysis of the new judgment of the Court, favouring a “contextual” reading of what is the latest link in a judicial chain. The following three parts offer interdisciplinary accounts of the decision of the European Court of Justice, including legal theory, constitutional law, and international law. The book closes with an epilogue by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, who studies the role of the Kadi case in the methodology of international law and its contribution to the concept of global justice.

The book brings together legal scholars from a range of fields, and discusses pressing topics such as the European Union’s objective of ‘the strict observance and the development of international law’, the EU as a site of global governance, constitutional pluralism and the protections of fundamental rights.

New publications

Several interesting publications have been published on the EU Fundamental Rights Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights in the last few weeks. Here are some of them :

Steve Peers, Tamara Hervey, Jeff Kenner and Angela Ward have edited “A Commentary on the The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights” (Hart, 2014). Here is the abstract :

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines the key political, social and economic rights of EU citizens and residents in EU law. In its present form it was approved in 2000 by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. However its legal status remained uncertain until the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009. The Charter obliges the EU to act and legislate consistently with the Charter, and enables the EU’s courts to strike down EU legislation which contravenes it. The Charter applies to EU Member States when they are implementing EU law but does not extend the competences of the EU beyond the competences given to it in the treaties.  This Commentary on the Charter, the first in English, written by experts from several EU Member States, provides an authoritative but succinct statement of how the Charter impacts upon EU, domestic and international law. Following the conventional article-by-article approach, each commentator offers an expert view of how each article is either already being interpreted in the courts, or is likely to be interpreted. Each commentary is referenced to the case law and is augmented with extensive references to further reading. Six cross-cutting introductory chapters explain the Charter’s institutional anchorage, its relationship to the Fundamental Rights Agency, its interaction with other parts of international human rights law, the enforcement mechanisms, extraterritorial scope, and the all-important ‘Explanations’.

Dia Anagnostou, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Domestic Implementation of Human Rights Judgments in Europe: Legal Infrastructure and Government Effectiveness Matter, Eur J Int Law (2014) 25 (1): 205-227.  Here is the abstract :

Over the past couple of years, international law and international relations scholarship has shifted its focus from the question of whether human rights treaties bring any state-level improvements at all to investigations in the domestic context of the factors and dy namics influencing state compliance. In this direction, and focusing on the European Court of Human Rights, this study inquires into the factors that account for variable patterns of state compliance with its judgments. Why do national authorities in some states adopt a more prompt and responsive attitude in implementing these judgments, in contrast to other states that procrastinate or respond reluctantly? On the basis of a large-N study of the Strasbourg Court’s judgments and a comparison across nine states, this article argues that variation in state implementation performance is closely linked to the overall legal infrastructure capacity and government effectiveness of a state. When such capacity and effectiveness are high and diffused, the adverse judgments of the Strasbourg Court are unlikely to be obstructed or ignored, even when the government, political elites, or other actors are reluctant and not in favour of substantive remedies.

Erik Voeten,  Domestic Implementation of European Court of Human Rights Judgments: Legal Infrastructure and Government Effectiveness Matter: A Reply to Dia Anagnostou and Alina Mungiu-Pippid, Eur J Int Law (2014) 25 (1): 229-238. Here is the abstract :

This article responds to the valuable contribution by Dia Anagnostou and Alina Mungiu-Pippidi in which they analyse how nine countries implemented European Court of Human Rights judgments that found violations of Articles 8–11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Their conclusion that capacity plays an important role in the implementation of ECtHR judgments is certainly correct. In this short response, I highlight various aspects of the authors’ analysis where they make problematic choices with regard to data and statistical methods. First, I describe and use a more comprehensive dataset that allows us to reach more generalizable conclusions. Secondly, I show how survival analysis is a more appropriate framework than logit or linear regression for analysing these data. Thirdly, I argue that the difficulty of the implementation task needs to be accounted for in any analysis of cross-country variation in implementation. My re-analysis shows that low capacity countries attract judgments that are more difficult to implement. The analysis also uncovers a subtle relationship between time, institutional capacity, and checks and balances. High capacity helps willing politicians to implement judgments quickly. Yet, among judgments that have been pending longer, countries with higher capacity are no quicker to implement than lower capacity countries. By contrast, checks and balances initially slow down implementation but help to eventually ensure begrudging implementation.

New book on Human Rights Law in Europe

9780415825993Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, Theodore Konstadinides, Tobias Lock, Noreen O’Meara have co-edited a new book on »Human Rights Law in Europe : The Influence, Overlaps and Contradictions of the EU and the ECHR« with Routledge. It includes ten chapters, foreword by Judge Dean Spielmann and concluding remarks by Judge Paul Mahoney. Here is the book’s abstract :

This book provides analysis and critique of the dual protection of human rights in Europe by assessing the developing legal relationship between the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The book offers a comprehensive consideration of the institutional framework, adjudicatory approaches, and the protection of material rights within the law of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It particularly explores the involvement and participation of stakeholders in the functioning of the EU and the ECtHR, and asks how well the new legal model of ‘the EU under the ECtHR’ compares to current EU law, the ECHR and general international law. Including contributions from leading scholars in the field, each chapter sets out specific case-studies that illustrate the tensions and synergies emergent from the EU-ECHR relationship. In so doing, the book highlights the overlap and dialectic between Europe’s two primary international courts. The book will be of great interest to students and researchers of European Law and Human Rights.