Avec la création des Nations Unies, la protection de la personne humaine est devenue un fondement de l’ordre international. En signant la Charte des Nations Unies, les États membres ont proclamé leur foi dans les droits fondamentaux de l’Homme, dans la dignité et la valeur de la personne humaine et dans l’égalité de droits des hommes et des femmes. Cette affirmation fondamentale a contribué au processus d’élaboration d’un ensemble d’instruments internationaux relatifs aux droits de l’Homme. L’importance de cette notion et sa mise en valeur dans les différents textes trouve son origine à la fois dans l’expérience des dictatures et du totalitarisme au 20e siècle et dans la reconnaissance des atrocités commises envers le genre humain. Ainsi, la dignité humaine remplit une fonction de justification pour la codification des droits de l’Homme. Protéger et veiller au respect de la dignité humaine est un défi de notre époque auquel nous devons constamment faire face en droit international au regard de l’hostilité croissante dans notre société.
"The Independence of Judges and their Freedom of Expression: An Ambivalent Relationship"
Abstract: Judges posting tweets on Twitter, writing columns in newspapers and pronouncing their views in public lectures - all this is a relatively new phenomenon. Whereas judges have traditionally exercised restraint in public pronouncements, there is an increasing expectation nowadays that they explain their decision-making to the broader public. Moreover, judges, at times, participate in political debate; they express their views on legislative reforms and take a stance on issues related to the judiciary. This increased visibility and public exposure raise new issues about judicial independence. For example, public pronouncement of personal views may give rise to concerns about a judge’s impartiality and the authority of the judiciary more generally. Thus, divergent interests are at stake here and need to be weighed against the freedom of expression. How to balance the competing principles is the subject of this article. Before analyzing this issue under the European Convention of Human Rights, I will give a short comparative overview of how national jurisdictions deal with potential conflicts of freedom of speech and judicial independence in order to contextualize the European Court of Human Right’s jurisprudence.
"Compliance Monitoring under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" zusammen mit Christine Weniger, in Grothe/Morales/Davide (eds.), Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Compliance in International Human Rights Law (expected 2019)
Abstract: Despite their unequivocal international commitments, many States continue to neglect their human rights obligations domestically and do not give effect to human rights at the local level. The international community, once primarily concerned with the codification of human rights standards, has therefore accelerated its efforts to monitor and induce compliance over the past decades. The Human Rights Committee as a fundamental pillar of the UN Human Rights System has become a pioneer in this respect. As the main treaty body charged with monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights it was the first institution to introduce a follow-up procedure to its individual complaint mechanism. It subsequently extended this mechanism to the state reporting procedure and developed a grading scheme to assess the national measures taken in response to its recommendations. This article locates the follow-up procedures within the UN system, identifies the relevant stakeholders and explains the strategies to overcome resistance. In view of the Committee’s almost three decades long follow-up experience it is time now to take stocks and evaluate this procedure in order to determine whether it has contributed to the compliance by States with their international human rights commitments. Based on the experience gained in the course of the follow-up proceedings and with compliance, more generally, we offer a critical evaluation of compliance monitoring and a perspective for future developments.
"From Complicity to Due Diligence: When do States incur Responsibility for their Involvement in Serious International Wrongdoing?", German Yearbook of International Law 60 (2017), S. 667 - 70
Abstract: Globalisation creates multiple challenges for the rule of law. States liaise in multiple ways and unfortunately not always for the common good. While the conventional rules of state responsibility are largely informed by an international order of coexistence where an internationally wrongful act is traced to a single state or a principal wrongdoer, realities look different today. There are many instances, in which more than one state is involved. If fundamental legal interests of the international community, such as the prohibition of genocide, other fundamental human rights and humanitarian standards, or the prohibition of the use of force are at stake, not only the main actors, accessories and bystanders incur responsibility for serious violations but other forms of involvement need to be addressed, too. Therefore, the article considers different modes of state involvement in serious violations of international law and the legal criteria for unlawful contributions. Giving special attention to participation below the level of complicity – when a State contributes to such serious violations without the respective positive knowledge – the author considers primary rules of international law that prohibit indirect participation, such as the duty to respect and ensure fundamental human rights. The focus on primary norms allows her to locate state responsibility for participation within the existing scheme of state responsibility without departing from the ILC rules on state responsibility (ARSIWA). The article argues in favour of a risk-based ex ante responsibility in order to prevent co-operation between States which violate fundamental legal norms of the international community. Accordingly, States incur responsibility for indirect participation if they do not exercise the necessary diligence to prevent such violations. Though due diligence is usually referred to when States fail to intervene in third party abuses it applies a fortiori in cases of active contributions. While the article concentrates on serious human rights violations it also refers to other fields of international law, including breaches of international humanitarian law. By specifying the legal parameters of due diligence as a general principle it also contributes to the scholarly debate on the content of due diligence in international law more generally.
"Digital Suveillance, Meta Data and Foreign Intelligence Cooperation: Unpacking the International Right to Privacy", Seibert-Fohr, Anja, Digital Surveillance, Meta Data and Foreign Intelligence Cooperation: Unpacking the International Right to Privacy (April 25 2018)
Abstract: Anti-terrorism measures have led to increasing digital interception of private communications and to mass surveillance, the extent of which had been unseen until recently. When a few years ago the discussion started about how to deal with this phenomenon, the call for a new legal instrument quickly erupted. However, this the article demonstrates that this is not a blind spot of international law. Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the right to privacy and the protection against unlawful interference with correspondence. The Human Rights Committee which is entrusted with the interpretation of the Covenant has taken recent cyber-related developments as an opportunity to unpack the right to privacy in the context of its state reporting procedure. The article by Anja Seibert-Fohr describes and systematizes the Human Rights Committee’s interpretation of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with respect to the protection of privacy against digital surveillance, meta data retention and foreign intelligence cooperation and outlines the respective legal standards. The author demonstrates that the Covenant provides the necessary legal ground to confront new technological challenges without ignoring the exigencies of the altering security situation. Safeguard procedures play a central role in this undertaking. The Committee, having identified various shortcomings in national legal frameworks, has specified the necessary safeguards to effectively protect the right to privacy against arbitrary interference. It has also clarified the territorial scope of protection under the Covenant which is not limited to domestic measures but also extents to transnational surveillance and digital intelligence sharing. The Committee thus has specified the meaning of Article 17 and laid important groundwork for the consideration of cyber-related issues. The author concludes with an outlook, describing new issues which the Committee will need to consider in the future, and makes general recommendations for the future conceptualization of the right to privacy in the digital age more generally.
The Human Rights Committee- Legacy and Promise, in Gerd Oberleitner (ed.), International Human Rights. Human Rights Institutions, Tribunals, and Courts - Legacy and Promise (Springer)
Abstract: The UN Human Rights Committee, which is recognized for its legal expertise in human rights law, belongs to the most prominent institutions for the oversight of international human rights. The Committee was the first universal body with a mandate to examine individual communications. Among the international treaty bodies it continues to receive the highest number of individual petitions. Through the course of its four decades of existence, the Committee has developed a considerable body of jurisprudence affecting the interpretation of human rights by domestic and international institutions, including the International Court of Justice.
The present book chapter introduces readers to the work of this quasi-judicial expert body from the perspective of a Committee member. It locates the Committee’s institutional place in the overall structure of the human rights system and describes current challenges and developments. The author offers an in-depth assessment of the Committee’s legacy and makes proposals on how the Committee can refine its procedures and methodology. In times of increasing challenges for international human rights, the Committee’s principal task is to defend the integrity of the Covenant, maintain a norm-based dialogue with the States parties and render the Covenant’s interpretation truly universal. In absence of an international human rights court, the Committee needs to preserve its legacy as a central legal player in universal human rights protection, reinforce the legitimacy of its decisions and exercise its functions in accordance with its mandate as a body composed of legally experienced and independent experts. This process also requires the involvement of other stakeholders and States parties who carry the responsibility for the Committee’s composition, independence and structural capacity. The author reminds States parties of their role as trustees of the universal protection of human rights and calls for an active complementarity approach in line with their erga omnes partes obligations. States parties are required to increase their commitments towards treaty implementation and enforcement both domestically and internationally. The author makes proposals on how to procedurally link the international and the domestic level and how States can play a more active role in the international enforcement of human rights.
Considerations from a General International Law Perspective
in I. Motoc/A. van Aaken, The European Court of Human Rights and General International Law (2018), Seiten 61-81
Abstract: Under which conditions and to what extent can subsequent State practice legitimately influence the interpretation or even modify international treaties? This issue of general international law has been on the European Court of Human Rights’ agenda for quite some time and is ongoing as evidenced in Hassan v. the United Kingdom. While State practice has traditionally played a role in the interpretation of the Convention, the Court’s methodology to determine under what circumstance and to what extent State practice is able to affect the scope and meaning of the Convention remains uncertain.
This article develops a general theoretical framework, which rationalizes the normative value of subsequent practice in the context of human rights treaty interpretation and sets out its relevant standards. Drawing from the ILC’s recent work on ‘Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to interpretation of treaties’, the author argues that the Vienna Rules provide a matrix. This perimeter allows sufficient flexibility to accommodate the specific nature of human rights law. The author proposes a normative scale, which can guide the Court in enhancing its methodological consistency. Pursuant to this scale, exigencies for the density of subsequent practice and the degree of acceptance pursuant to Article 38 (1)(b) VCLT vary depending on the nature of the rule and the claimed normative value of State practice. Once State practice meets the required standard, it can sustain the legitimacy of treaty interpretation. On this basis, subsequent practice can serve as a catalyst for the advancement of human rights.
Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights – Effects and Implementation, Nomos / Ashgate
Geleitwort, Vorwort und Inhaltsverzeichnis (Seiten 1-12)
Der Band beschäftigt sich mit der innerstaatlichen Wirkung von Urteilen des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte als Herausforderung des europäischen Mehrebenensystems. Ausgehend von aktuellen Divergenzen im Verhältnis zu den EMRK-Vertragstaaten wird nach Möglichkeiten der Neuorientierung in einer ebenenübergreifenden Ordnung gefragt, in der die Straßburger Rechtsprechung zunehmende Bedeutung für die verschiedensten Lebensbereiche entfaltet. Dabei werden aktuelle Tendenzen in der Rechtsprechung des EGMR aufgezeigt und vor dem Hintergrund des Subsidiaritätsprinzips erörtert. Eingehend werden die Geltungsweite und Rechtsfolgen von EGMR-Urteilen, Gegenstand und Umfang von Abhilfe- und Schadensersatzpflichten sowie die Funktion der nationalen Gerichtsbarkeit bei der Umsetzung der Urteile in den Blick genommen. Durch die Beteiligung wesentlicher Akteure des europäischen Mehrebenenschutzes, darunter namhafte Richter, Vertreter der Rechtswissenschaften und Praktiker aus verschiedenen Europaratsstaaten, gelingt es, divergierende Gesichtspunkte in die Diskussion einzubeziehen und Strategien der dialektischen Konfliktlösung weiterzuentwickeln. Unter den Autoren finden sich auf Seiten der europäischen und nationalen Richterschaft der damalige Präsident des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte, Dean Spielmann, die Richterinnen Angelika Nußberger und Julia Laffranque sowie die Richter Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, Sabino Cassese, Jacek Chlebny, Péter Kovács, Lord Justice Laws und Andreas Paulus.
Anja Seibert-Fohr & Mark E. Villiger, 'Current Challenges in European Multilevel Human Rights Protection', in: dies. (Hrsg.), Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights - Effects and Implementation (Nomos/Ashgate 2014), pp. 13-24
Judicial Independence in Transition (Springer)
Strengthening the rule of law has become a key factor for the transition to democracy and the protection of human rights. Though its significance has materialized in international standard setting, the question of implementation is largely unexplored. This book describes judicial independence as a central aspect of the rule of law in different stages of transition to democracy. The collection of state-specific studies explores the legal situation of judiciaries in twenty states from North America, over Western, Central and South-Eastern Europe to post-Soviet states and engages in a comparative legal analysis. Through a detailed account of the current situation it takes stocks, considers advances in and shortcomings of judicial reform and offers advice for future strategies. The book shows that the implementation of judicial independence requires continuous efforts, not only in countries in transition but also in established democracies which are confronted with ever new challenges.
Transnational Labour Litigation: The Ups and Downs under the Alien Tort Statute, in P.-T. Stoll/ H. Gött, Labour Standards in International Economic Law (2018)
Abstract: When we consider the protection of labour rights, international standard-setting is only one aspect that deserves attention. What is equally important is the enforcement of these rights. Unfortunately, however, enforcement mechanisms are insufficient or unavailable in many developing countries. Therefore, victims of labour rights violations have turned to those jurisdictions where transnational corporations are incorporated in order to seek damages.
The contribution by Anja Seibert-Fohr addresses the question of how labour standards can be enforced by individuals in domestic courts. Taking the example of the US Alien Torts Act (ATS) she describes the experience gained under this over 200 years-old statute which gives district courts jurisdiction of civil action by aliens for torts committed in violation of international law. While ATS litigation initially focused on grave human rights violations, such as torture and genocide, a number of civil suits have been brought by foreigners seeking damages for the violation of international labour standards over the past decade. The contribution describes what obstacles are faced by the plaintiffs and asks to what extent civil litigation can contribute to the protection of labour standards abroad.
Judicial Engagement in International Human Rights Comparativism, in: A. Reinisch/ M. E. Footer/ C. Binder, (eds.), International Law and …, Hart Publishing (2016)
Anja Seibert-Fohr, 'International Judicial Ethics' in: Cesare Romano, Karen Alter & Yuval Shany (Hrsg.), The Oxford Handbook of International Adjudication, S. 757-778.
Judicial ethics - or the rules that seek to ensure the personal independence, impartiality, and diligence of adjudicators by guiding their judicial and extra-judicial conduct in international adjudication - is a relatively young and still evolving field.
While standards of judicial ethics at the national and transnational level are old and well established, their applicability at the international level is not automatic. Although it may be tempting to draw from domestic rules on judicial conduct in order to fill this gap, there are structural differences between domestic and international adjudication to consider. The standards developed for the domestic sphere can hardly be transferred lock, stock, and barrel to international adjudication, which is different in nature, composition and function. Thus, international courts and tribunals are confronted with the challenge of developing their own judicial culture. This culture must satisfy universal expectations of fairness and propriety.
Prof. Seibert-Fohr's contribution gives an overview of the relevant legal rules that have been developed over time in various fields of international adjudication. Her analysis focuses on the three key values that must guide judicial conduct: independence, impartiality, and diligence.
Anja Seibert-Fohr, 'Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung im Planungsverfahren: Chancen und Grenzen am Beispiel des Planvereinheitlichungsgesetzes', in: Verwaltungsarchiv, Vol. 103, pp. 311-326.
Die schwindende Akzeptanz von Großprojekten, seien dies Flughäfen, Energieleitungen oder Bahnhöfe, kann Auswirkungen auf die Rechtssicherheit und Verlässlichkeit einmal getroffener Planungsentscheidungen haben. Planungsverfahren sollen daher unter der sorgfältigen Abwägung privater und öffentlicher Belange zu bestandskräftigen Ergebnissen führen, die nach Ausschöpfung der bestehenden Rechtsschutzmöglichkeiten nicht wieder revidiert werden. Dazu ist es erforderlich, dass innerhalb dieser Verfahren alle relevanten Aspekte vorgebracht werden können, sodass eine breite Entscheidungsgrundlage gewährleistet ist. Auf diese Weise kann vermieden werden, dass spätere Einwendungen eine solche Sprengkraft entfalten, dass einmal getroffene Entscheidungen im Wege von Volksabstimmungen mittelbar wieder zur Disposition gestellt werden.
Relevant wurde dies bei der Planfeststellung des Projektes Stuttgart 21. Die dadurch entfachte Diskussion im Bereich des Planungsrechts hat sich in dem 2013 in Kraft getretenen Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung und Vereinheitlichung von Planfeststellungsverfahren (PlVereinhG) niedergeschlagen. Der Beitrag untersucht - nach einem Vergleich der Neuerung mit der Fachplanung Stuttgart 21 betreffend - ob das Gesetz dem Anspruch gerecht wird, die Akzeptanz und legitimierende Wirkung von Planungsverfahren zu erhöhen. Die Autorin beschäftigt sich auch mit der Frage, welche Ziele im Planungsverfahren realistischerweise verfolgt werden können. Dabei zeigt sie nicht nur die Möglichkeiten der Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung, sondern auch ihre Grenzen auf.