Russia left, threatened and won: Its return to the Assembly without sanctions

By Lize R. Glas, Assistant Professor of European law, Radboud University, the Netherlands

The background story: The Assembly takes action

As has been recounted on this blog and on other blogs already (see here and here as well), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Assembly) and Russia have been in a row ever since the Assembly suspended the voting rights and some other rights of the Russian delegation in April 2014 (see also here). The Assembly took this measure because of, inter alia, Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In response, Russia has not submitted the credentials of its delegation since 2016. Moreover, Russia suspended its payment to the Council of Europe.

These events have not only led to serious financial consequences for the Organisation (by the end of 2019, Russia will have a debt of 90 million euros), but have also led Russia to question the binding nature of the European Court of Human Rights’ (Court) judgments, considering that it has not participated in the election of most of the Court’s current judges. To make things even worse, Russia has threatened to leave the Council of Europe if it would not be permitted to participate in the election of the new Secretary General during the June 2019 session (see also here). Russia has made its return to the Assembly conditional on the Assembly removing from its Rules of Procedure the provisions concerning the challenging of credentials and the imposition of sanctions. As a result of these events, the Council of Europe is now in a ‘deep political and financial crisis’. Continue reading

Election of the ECtHR Judge in Ukraine: from bad to worse

By Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Liverpool)

As I have predicted in my previous blog post on this issue, the campaign for election of a judge in Ukraine has already proved to be a good case study illustrating the challenges that the Council of Europe institutions have to confront. These challenges now mainly result from poor national practices which might lead to suboptimal lists of nominees which in turn have to be rejected by the Council of Europe. These rejections always lead to delays in appointment of new judges for the Court. Luckily, the ECHR does not have the rule that the judge whose term is over cannot sit on the bench. Otherwise, these delays could have been effective in sabotaging the work of the Court. In any event, it is already fair to say that the Ukrainian national selection procedure reflects very bad national practices. On 4 March 2019 the president of Ukraine established an ad hoc selection committee; last week (week commencing on 22 April 2019) it announced the competition. The details of these announcements suggest that the Ukrainian authorities aim to limit the possible pool of candidates as much as possible in order to avoid real competition. Continue reading

Election of Judges of the European Court of Human Rights: Ukraine, the Beginning

By Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Liverpool)

Election of judges is crucially important for the legitimacy, reputation and authoritativeness of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Court needs leading academics and practitioners not only to come up with well-drafted and reasoned judgments but also to ensure that these judgments are then embedded into the national legal systems of the Contracting Parties to the Convention. The role of the national judge therefore includes education and dissemination of the core principles and values of the Convention in their home countries. When these principles are presented by a well-respected professional, their weight increases exponentially. In order to choose the best candidates the selection procedure should be clear, transparent and based on merits of the candidates. This post is the first one of a series of posts, spread over the coming months, which will be looking at the selection procedure that commenced last week in Ukraine. In these posts, I will try to use the developments in Ukraine to illustrate the challenges that the Council of Europe and its Member States face in that regard. Continue reading

The Assembly’s appeasement towards Russia

By Lize R. Glas, assistant professor of European Law, Radboud University

Slightly less than a year ago, I wrote a blog titled ‘The Assembly’s row with Russia and its repercussions for the Convention system’ on Strasbourg Observers. In that blog, I described that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Assembly) decided, in April 2014, to suspend the voting rights of the Russian delegation in reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The Assembly prolonged this sanction in 2015 and decided to suspend other rights of the delegation as well, such as the right to become a rapporteur. In response, Russia did not submit the credentials of the Russian delegation to the Assembly, meaning that this delegation could not contribute to the Assembly’s work. A former Russian Assembly member explained that Russia would only return if the Assembly would reverse its decisions. Russian has also responded by withholding its payments to the Council of Europe (CoE) in 2017 and 2018.

The title of the current blog is markedly different from that of my previous blog, because the Assembly will vote on a resolution that may make it possible for Russia to regain its rights, without giving in to the Assembly’s requests. This vote will take place on 9 October 2018. The current blog explains why and how this resolution has come into being and whether the resolution is a sign of the Assembly’s appeasement towards Russia. Continue reading

Implementation of ECtHR judgments – What do the latest statistics tell us?

By Lucy Moxham, Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

In April 2018, the Committee of Ministers (the regional body responsible for supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights) published its 11th Annual Report. The Committee’s Annual Report 2017 is available in full here. This post highlights some of the headline statistics in the Report and what they tell us about the overall state of play with respect to the implementation of the Court’s judgments. A closer look reveals several areas for concern behind some of the positive statistics. Continue reading

The Assembly’s row with Russia and its repercussions for the Convention system

By Lize R. Glas, assistant professor of European Law, Radboud University

In early 2014, Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. The annexation has had grave humanitarian consequences and has set in motion a chain of events that is likely to affect the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) system. The most direct effect is extra pressure on the European Court of Human Rights (Court). Already in July 2016, about 3,000 applications relating to the annexation and the hostilities in Eastern Ukraine were pending before it. Many applications moreover include a request for interim measures. Additionally, Ukraine has brought no less than three inter-state cases against Russia. Another clearly visible effect concerns the applicability of the Convention: Ukraine has declared a state of emergency under Article 15 ECHR, so it can take measures derogating from most Convention rights. Other consequences are less direct or visible; they are the repercussions of a decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Assembly). The Assembly took this decision in order to denounce Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

In this blog, I discuss that decision and its (potential) repercussions for the Convention system.  Continue reading