Bristol hosts prestigious public lecture on human rights
Press release issued: 5 May 2009
Human rights will be the focus of a prestigious public lecture to be delivered by Professor Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of Human Rights (1998-2007), at the University of Bristol tomorrow [6 May].
Entitled ‘What Future for the European Court of Human Rights?’ the lecture is hosted by the University’s School of Law and Human Rights Research Theme. While largely concerned with the European Court of Human Rights, Professor Wildhaber will argue that ‘from a pan-European perspective the repeal of the UK’s Human Rights Act would be regrettable and damaging, particularly for the protection of human rights in Eastern Europe and Turkey’.
The European Court of Human Rights was established under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) of 1950. The Convention, one of the most important international treaties adopted by the Council of Europe, seeks to secure the fundamental civil and political rights of everyone within the jurisdiction of member states by implementing the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights in a legally binding way. The Convention was successfully extended after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 to practically all countries of central and eastern Europe; and it has become, since 1998, a living illustration of the right of individual application.
Despite the case overload currently experienced by the European Court of Human Rights, Professor Wildhaber emphasises that ‘if one wants to launch an effective human rights protection procedure, a system of individual applications leading to binding judgments by an independent court looks good’. But the Court’s case overload crisis is now so grave that Professor Wildhaber believes it should be given the power to select only the most serious cases for consideration which might involve applicants seeking the Court’s ‘leave to appeal’.
The European Court of Human Rights makes its decisions on the basis of the facts of each individual case. Where it finds a violation of the Convention has resulted from decisions of national courts, legislation, or a widespread practice which does not fulfil Convention standards, it will also, over time, continue to find violations in each case which derives from such legislation or practice. The Court has, in other words, become a ‘quasi-Constitutional Court for Europe’, and recent case law with respect to the right to property might even lead it to become a ‘quasi-Supreme Administrative Court for Europe’.
Professor Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of Human Rights (1998-2007), is Professor Emeritus of the University of Basel, Visiting Professor at Yale Law School, and Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor at the School of Law, University of Bristol.
The lecture, co-ordinated by Steven Greer, Professor of Human Rights at the University of Bristol, will be held on Wednesday 6 May at 6 pm in the University of Bristol’s Victoria Rooms, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol. Further information about the event is available on the University’s School of Law website.