Saturday 26 January 2013

Applications for Geneva Academy LLM

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights has opened the applications for its 2013/2014 LL.M. Programme in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Students follow advanced courses and seminars in all branches of international law applicable to situations of armed conflict. The Programme aims at preparing students for leadership roles in governments as well as international and non-governmental organizations.
The Master's core courses are taught in English and exams can be taken either in English or in French. Optional classes and activities are available in both languages. The resident faculty is comprised of professors from the Law Faculty and the Graduate Institute, and the visiting faculty consists of professors and lecturers principally from other universities, recognized for their expertise in one of the branches of international law covered in the Master's programme. In addition, experts and professionals participate by teaching short modules and delivering lectures. As part of the LL.M., students have the chance to pursue internships in Geneva-based NGOs and international organizations. The Master's degree is jointly issued by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
The Programme is open to candidates holding a degree in law and showing a strong interest in the application of international law in times of armed conflict. The application deadline is set for Friday 15 February 2013. More information on the programme is available at the website

The Three Charters

Yesterday I delivered the inaugural lecture (in Dutch, the oratie) of the chair in international criminal law and human rights at Leiden University. It was entitled 'The Three Charters', and it attempted to weave together the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the International Military Tribunal and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here is the text of the lecture.
Signing the wall in the 'sweat room' (with Penelope)
The oratie is a magnificent tradition at one of the world's great universities. It takes place in a building that is many hundreds of years old. Those in attendance comprised my many new colleagues at Leiden, including two distinguished professors emeriti, Frits Kaltshoven and John Dugard, international judges from the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and a large number of past and present students.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Cinema and Human Rights Days is a two day event taking place on March 15th and 16th, 2013 at Birkbeck, University of London and it offers an exciting programme of lectures, discussions,  screenings of extracts and film screenings selected from the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival.  
The event is addressed to students and young professionals of human rights in the film and media sector in London wishing to broaden their understanding on the connection between film, media and human rights, on what a human rights film is, and how human rights  films can  raise awareness  and ultimately be able to influence cultural, political and social  change. 
Participants are afforded the opportunity to share ideas, engage with and understand the perspectives of others, increase their awareness of sensitive human rights issues, network with practitioners and academics and learn how they themselves can contribute to the field of human rights through the medium of film.
Click here to download the programme of the event as well as speakers' biographies.
The event is free of charge. Places are limited, so registration is essential.

Friday 11 January 2013

Ukraine Ordered to Reinstate Supreme Court Judge by European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of Oleksandr Volkov, who was dismissed from his post as a Supreme Court judge of Ukraine in May 2010 due to an alleged ‘breach of oath’. The Court found violations of the right to a fair trial and respect for private life and ordered Ukraine to reinstate him immediately as a Supreme Court judge, the first time the Court has made such an order. Mr Volkov was represented by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) based at Middlesex University.  
Mr Volkov was appointed as a Supreme Court judge in 2003. In 2008, proceedings were brought against him before the High Council of Justice for alleged professional misconduct, and he was consequently dismissed by the plenary parliament from his post in 2010 for “breach of oath”. Mr Volkov appealed unsuccessfully to the Higher Administrative Court  against his dismissal.
In its judgment, the Court found four separate violations of the right to a fair hearing (Article 6(1)). Firstly, the bodies which considered Mr Volkov’s case were not independent and impartial. There were ‘structural deficiencies’ in the proceedings before the High Council of Justice, a number of whose members were also found to be personally biased. The hearing of the case by Parliament “only served to contribute to the politicisation of the procedure and to aggravate the inconsistency of the procedure with the principle of the separation of powers”. These defects were not considered to have been remedied during the review of the case by the Higher Administrative Court.
Secondly, the principle of legal certainty was breached because there was no limitation period relating to the proceedings against Mr Volkov.
Thirdly, the principle of legal certainty was also violated because, during the plenary meeting of Parliament, ‘the MPs present deliberately and unlawfully cast multiple votes belonging to their absent peers’, which violated the Ukrainian Constitution and other legislation. Fourthly, the chamber of the Higher Administrative Court was not considered to be a ‘tribunal established by law’ because its president had continued to perform the duties of president after the expiry of the relevant statutory time limit.
The Court also found a violation of Article 8 of the Convention because Mr Volkov’s dismissal from the post of judge did not comply with the domestic law and also because the law was arbitrary.
The Court ordered the Ukrainian authorities to reinstate Mr Volkov in the post of Supreme Court judge ‘at the earliest possible date’.
Significantly, the Court found ‘serious systemic problems as regards the functioning of the Ukrainian judiciary’ and ordered Ukraine to carry out reform of the system of judicial discipline, including legislative reform.
My colleague Prof. Philip Leach, who directs the  European Human Rights Advocacy Centre at Middlesex, commented: “We are delighted by this decision. Mr Volkov was the victim of endemic political corruption, which this judgment confirms is prevalent in Ukraine. It is significant that the European Court has, for the first time, ordered the reinstatement of someone who was unfairly dismissed. This judgment confirms that the Ukrainian legal system is in urgent need of fundamental reform.”  

Wednesday 2 January 2013

America's Retreat from the Death Penalty

See the editorial in yesterday's International Herald Tribune and today's New York Times entitled America's Retreat from the Death Penalty.
Thanks to Bill Hartzog.