The Evolution of Human Rights Law in Europe: Comparing the European Court of Human Rights and the ECJ, ICJ, and ICC

By Donna V. Artusy
2014, Vol. 6 No. 11 | pg. 4/4 |

VII. Conclusion

protection has steadily risen over the past century: increasing societal awareness coupled with a legal system better positioned to attend to such concerns has manifested itself in many ways. Supranational legal institutions have been established to address the grievances of citizens and concerns of the states. Although all equipped to decide issues, unlike the European Court of Human Rights, the lack of jurisdiction of the ICC, European Court of Justice, and ICC has diminished both their ability to substantiate their legitimacy, and enforcement of their authority.

The courts play significant roles within the European legal system: however, none have the same jurisdiction as the European Court of Human Rights and none are as attuned to the protection of the rights of the individual. Despite many concerns, some of which have been outlined in this paper, the European Court of Human Rights holds the potential to greatly impact the direction of the European legal community and potentially influence enforcement of human rights law in years to come. Its decisions create precedent and can be used to support other cases before the court.

If other courts had similar jurisdiction as the European Court of Human Rights, not only would they be more comprehensive in scope, but also in their to protect such individual rights. States' rights are certainly of importance, but it is difficult to uphold them when individual rights are insufficiently protected: there must at least be equal protection of both.84

Through the examination of various cases and historical data, this analysis has shown the European Court of Human Rights to be the most effective legal institution compared to its relative counterparts within the realm of human rights protection. Historically, the appeals heard by this court have empowered petitioners, which in most cases have been state actors. This impact goes far beyond the scope of the institutions of the courts themselves.

The European Court of Human Rights has created legal standards that are now more universally accepted and implemented in various jurisdictions. The benefits of the unique coverage of the European Court of Human Rights further helps to present valuable and timely protection of human rights concerns upon which other courts cannot decide. It has given an opportunity to citizens to voice their discontent and grievances, and fight for their rights in order to create a "fair" way of living. This is the true purpose of any legal institution in society: to present, protect, and defend the rights of its citizens.

Though as in any legal system and any legal institution, there are imperfections and the European Court of Human Rights is not an exception, this court has delivered its promise to administer justice and encourage a more fair and harmonious standard of living within the European community, and has great potential for higher standards of rights protection with future progress.


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Endnotes

1.) Council of Europe Site, "Council of Europe: In Brief." Accessed February 12, 2010 (http://www.coe.int/aboutCoe/index.asp?page=datescles&l=en). The founding countries of Council of Europe: Belgium, , Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the , Ireland, Italy, Demark, Norway, and Sweden.

2.) Steiner, Henry J. and Philip Alston. International Human Rights in Context, Law Politics, Moral, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2nd edition, 2000), pp. 801, 807; Laurence Helfer and Anne-Marie Slaughter, 'Toward a Theory of Effective Supranational Litigation, 107, Yale Law Journal (1997) pg. 296.

3.) Arold, Nina Louise. The Legal Culture of the European Court of Human Rights: Brill Academic Publishers Koninklikle (2007), 14-15.

4.) Ibid, 2.

5.) Any individual who is a citizen of one of the current 47 member states of the Council of Europe may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

6.) Nuremberg (video): Stephen Tremblay, 2001.

7.) Military Tribunals at Nuremburg: Official Record, United States v. Karl Brandt, Siefgried Handlose, Paul Rostock, Oskar Schroeder, Karl Genzken, Kurt Blome, Rudolf Brandt, Joachim Mrugowsky, Helmut Popendick, Wolfram Sievers, Konrad Shaefer, Waldemar Hoven, Wilhem Beigleboeck, Fraitz Fischer, Adolf Pekorny, etc. Nuremberg, 1946. pg. 8-12.

8.) United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed February 2, 2010 (http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005143).

9.) Keylor, William R. Twentieth Century World and Beyond: An International History Since 1900, 5th Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2005) pg. 177-178.

10.) International Criminal Court: States Parties to the Rome Statute. Accessed on March 3, 2010 (http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/states+parties/).

11.) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article XII accessed August 1, 2014 (http://legal.un.org/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm).

12.) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1987.

13.) European Court of Human Rights Official Texts. Accessed September 10, 2014 (http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=basictexts&c=#n1359128122487_pointer).

14.) Arold, 20.

15.) Ibid, 21.

16.) Nino, Carlos Santiago. The Ethics of Human Rights: Oxford University Press, Oxford (1991). Carlos Santiago Nino was a prominent legal scholar whose work represented progressive thought, especially with regard to morality.

17.) Constitutional Dictionary, ex post facto defined as: "1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender."

From usconstitution.net (accessed Jan 31, 2010).

18.) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Part 13, Article 124. Accessed on September 9, 2014 (http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf).

19.) Arold, 3.

20.) This is in no way implicit that legal systems change or should change in accordance with or at the whim of social pressures, but serves only as a comment on the inclusion of certain accommodations.

21.) Convention on Cybercrime: Signatures and Ratifications Accessed July 15, 2013 (http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=185&CM=&DF=&CL=ENG).

22.) Merryman, John Henry. The Civil Law Tradition, An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Western Europe and Latin America: Stanford University Press, Stanford (1985) pg. 9.

23.) Arold, 3.

24.) Clapham, Andrew. Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction: Oxford University Press: Oxford (2007) pg. 43.

25.) Mirow, M.C. "The Power of Codification in Latin America: Simón Bolívar and the Code Napoléon" accessed March 14, 2010 (http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/tulicl8&div=7&id=&page=) pg. 96.

26.) Arold, 5.

27.) Ibid, 207.

28.) Reagan, Ronald. "Tear Down This Wall" Speech, Berlin, Germany, June 12, 1987.

29.) Association des Conseils d'Etat et des Jurisdictions administratives suprêmes de l'Union européenne, accessed February 23, 2010 (http://www.juradmin.eu/en/history/history_en.html)

30.) A detailed study on the Convention and its case law provides brilliant analysis. See Bernadette Rainey, Elizabeth Wicks, Clare Orey. The European Convention on Human Rights: Oxford University Press, Oxford (2014).

31.) Arold, 6.

32.) Ibid, 6.

33.) Clapham, 76 cites Ken Roth, Human Rights Watch field report: April 2001.

34.) Statute of the International Court of Justice, Article 65: accessed August 28, 2014 (http://www.icj-cij.org/documents/?p1=4&p2=2).

35.) Statute of the International Court of Justice, Article 59.

36.) Mahony, Paul. "Marvelous Richness of Diversity or Individual Cultural Relativism," Human Rights Law Journal, (1998) pg.1.

37.) See Application No. 5493/72 Handyside v. UK (1976) Accessed on Spetember 14, 2014 (http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-57499#{"itemid":["001-57499"]}).

38.) Balkin, Jack M. "What Brown Teaches Us About Constitutional Law." Virginia Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 6 (October 2004):1542.

39.) Arold, 30.

40.) European Convention on Human Rights, Article 46.

41.) Arold, 38.

42.) Ibid, 22.

43.) Debate at the Assembly: State of Human Rights and Democracy in Europe, December 2007. Council of Europe Publishing. pg. 14.

44.) Arold, 14.

45.) Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. Signed December 17, 2007.

46.) Protocol No. 14 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, amending the control system of the Convention. Entered into force June 1, 2010.

47.) Arold, 6.

48.) Ibid, 6.

49.) Ibid, 7.

50.) Article 46, European Convention on Human Rights.

51.) Arold, 7.

52.) Friedman, Lawrence M. "Is There a Modern Legal Culture?" Ratio Juris (1994) pg. 119; Also Lawrence Friedman, "The Concept of Legal Culture: A Reply" in David Nelken's Comparing Legal Cultures: Aldershto: Dartmouth (1997) pg. 34.

53.) Report of the Monitoring Committee of March 14, 2000, Council of Europe Document 8666.

54.) Arold, 31.

55.) Council of Europe Press Notice of April 26, 2001: "Report of monitoring Committee of March 14 2000," Council of Europe (pg. 31).

56.) Speech given by Chief Justice John Roberts at the University of Alabama Law School, March 9, 2010.

57.) Ibid.

58.) Nuala Mole and Catharina Harby, "The Right to Fair Trial: A Guide to the implementation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Belgium: Council of Europe, 2006.

59.) Funke v. France, App. No 10828/84. Decision Feb. 25. 1993. Accessed online (http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=695686&portal =hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649).

60.) Mole, Article 6 Handbook.

[61] Ezelin v. France (11800/85) 1991. Accessed on April 1, 2010 (http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=695552& portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649).

62.) Ibid.

63.) Located in Chechnya; Bitiyeva alleged forged evidence, coercion, torture by police forces. See Baysayev, Usam. Prague Watchdog: Heroes not of Our Time, July 22, 2009. Accessed at http://www.watchdog.cz/?show=000000-000024-000002-000015&lang=1.

64.) Bitiyeva and X v. Russia 2009, European Court of Human Rights case, accessed from the Chechen Republic Ichkebia (http://www.waynakh.com/eng/2009/05/bitiyeva-and-x-v-russia/).

65.) Chivers, C.J. "Journalist Critical of the Chechen War is Shot Dead." New York Times, October 8, 2006.

66.) European Human Rights Advocacy Centre: London Metropolitan University. June 19, 2007: Strasbourg to Rule on Torture and Killing of Chechen Peace Activist. Accessed April 1, 2010 (http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/londonmet/library/h98248_3.pdf).

67.) Amnesty International- Public Statement: Russian Federation and European Court of Human Rights Rulings on Bitiyeva and X v. Russia. June 21, 2007. Accessed online (http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460272007?open&of=ENG-RUS).

68.) Nold v. Commission, 4/73 [1974] ECR 491 on March 3, 2010.

69.) Treaty of the European Union, Article 24.

70.) A special tribunal was formed to hear this case in 1994, as the ICC was not officially created until 2002. The case was held in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as established by the UN Security Council.

71.) Kony was charged with crimes against humanity on 33 counts, including rape, murder, and torture.

72.) "Victims of African Violence Sing for Justice," National Public Radio: November 28, 2009.

73.) "Court Seeks Arrests of Ugandan Rebels." New York Times: October 15, 2005.

74.) Cour Pénale Internationale ICC-02/04-01/05 The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okat Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen. Accessed September 3, 2014 (http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20icc%200204/related%20cases/icc%200204%200105/Pages/uganda.aspx).

75.) Damrosch, Lori. Law and Force in the New International Order. (Oxford: Westview Press (1991) pg. 270-282.

76.) Nicaragua v. United States of America (1986) International Court of Justice decision: available online (http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=367&p1=3&p2=3&case=70&p3=5).

77.) Posner, Eric A. Is the International Court of Justice Biased? University of Chicago Law School (December 2004) accessed September 12, 2014 (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/234.eap_.icj-bias.pdf) pg. 3.

78.) Definition from the Convention to Prevent Genocide 1948: genocide means "…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group (definition available online at http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html).

79.) Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovinav. Serbia and Montenegro). Accessed on February 18, 2010 (http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=667&code=bhy&p1=3&p2=2&case=91&k=f4&p3=5).

80.) Ibid, paragraphs 425-447.

81.) Ibid, Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro (2007) accessed online at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/91/13685.pdf.

82.) Ibid, decision, pg. 21.

83.) Press Release from the Hague: "Serbia Found Guilty of Failure to Prevent and Punish Genocide." February 26, 2007- Sense Tribunal Online. Accessed February 6, 2010 (http://www.sense-agency.com/international_court_of_justice/serbia-found-guilty-of-failure-to-prevent-and-punish-genocide.47.html?cat_id=2&news_id=10129).

84.) The scope of this paper covers the European systems, and does not address other parts of the world. The UN's ICC and ICJ cover other areas globally, but again are confronted by similar problems of inadequate jurisdiction and power. These concerns are not limited to the European legal system alone.

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