29 Juli 2021

Hundreds of judges appointed in violation of the ECHR?

On 22 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights issued its third judgment concerning the rule of law crisis in Poland. In Reczkowicz v. Poland the Court ruled that the Disciplinary Chamber which dismissed the cassation complaint of the applicant did not meet the standard of a “right to a court established by law” guaranteed under Article 6 § 1 the Convention. The judgment is important not only because the ECtHR reviewed the status of the Disciplinary Chamber – a controversial body that was also the subject of a recent CJEU judgment – but also because it seems that the reasoning of the Court can be applied to hundreds of other newly appointed judges. Continue reading >>
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28 Juli 2021
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How Not to Deal with Poland’s Fake Judges’ Requests for a Preliminary Ruling

In his Opinion of 8 July 2021 in Case C-132/20 Getin Noble Bank, AG Bobek advised the Court of Justice to find admissible a national request for a preliminary ruling originating from an individual who was appointed to Poland’s Supreme Court on the back of manifest and grave irregularities. In this specific case, contrary to the position of AG Bobek, we submit that the ECJ must find the request inadmissible as the referring individual cannot be considered a tribunal established by law. Continue reading >>
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Lessons from the French Citizens’ Climate Convention

On July 6, the French Prime Minister announced that the government was abandoning the bill to enshrine in the Constitution the preservation of the environment. He invoked the Senate's inertia to justify renouncing the bill, which needed to be adopted in the same terms by the two houses of parliament. The climate referendum that had been announced by the President of the Republic in December 2020 was thus abandoned. The decision was not a surprise, as many doubted the political feasibility or the actual willingness to implement it. Continue reading >>
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23 Juli 2021

Towards a Radical Revision of the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The UK Government’s Command Paper released on 21 July 2021 urges a renegotiation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which forms part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. The EU has already indicated that a renegotiation is out of the question. In fact, this blog post argues that it would be constitutionally impossible for the EU to agree to the UK’s proposals without agreeing to a radical revision of the Protocol that would endanger the achievement of its overall aims. In addition, the invocation of Article 16 (the safeguards clause) as discussed in the Command Paper would not resolve the underlying issues either and the UK Government knows this. But that leaves the question: What is the Command Paper really about? Continue reading >>

A new chance for democracy in Moldova

On 11 July 2021, Moldovans elected the 11th legislature of the country and, for the first time, voted overwhelmingly for a pro-Western political party. The results are proof of a high desire for change in Moldova, and a reorientation towards Europe. The elections came after a months-long tug of war between the pro-Western and the Socialist political forces, involving attempts by both parties to politicize the Constitutional Court and the Central Electoral Commission. Continue reading >>
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20 Juli 2021

Does Where You (Legally) Stand Depend On Where You Sit?

On July 8, 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petitions challenging Basic Law: Israel as the Nation of the Jewish People, enacted almost three years earlier. The so-called Hasson decision not only raises important questions about the relationship between legal and political struggles, it also calls into question the constitutional foundations of equality and democracy. Continue reading >>
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Protecting Polish Judges from Political Control

After many years of judicial “reforms”, Kaczyński’s Poland may soon become the EU’s second authoritarian Member State, even as the European Court of Justice increasingly attempted to deal with different aspects of Kaczyński’s multi-pronged attacks on judicial independence. In Case C-791/19, the found the new disciplinary regime for Polish judges to be incompatible with EU law while in Case C-204/21 R, the Vice-President of the ECJ ordered the immediate suspension of the application of the legislative provisions governing the jurisdiction of the infamous “Disciplinary Chamber”. Continue reading >>
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One Step Forward: Cannabis Regulation in Mexico

On 28 June2021, the Supreme Court of Mexico declared with a general effect that an absolute ban on “recreational” marihuana use is unconstitutional. This was only the second time in history that the Supreme Court issued a general declaration of unconstitutionality, which represents a step forward in the long and winding road for a comprehensive cannabis regulation in Mexico. Continue reading >>
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Pride or Prejudice?

The joined cases IX v Wabe and MH Müller Handels GmbH offered the CJEU a second chance to heed the arguments raised against Achbita and reconsider its decision. Hopes that the Court would be willing to revise Achbita diminished significantly after AG Rantos’s disappointing Opinion in the case. Last week's decision in IX v Wabe to largely uphold Achbita was then also unsurprising, but nevertheless disappointing. Continue reading >>
19 Juli 2021

Polexit or judicial dialogue?

In the world of EU law, Poland and the rule of law, it was a wild third week of July. A series of events unfolded in Warsaw and Luxembourg, adding to the saga of Polish rule of law travails before courts. All levels of Polish government and bodies controlled by the ruling party have decried CJEU interim orders and judgments, indicating a complete lack of will to comply with EU law and CJEU rulings. Is a "Polexit" looming? Continue reading >>
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All Eyes on LGBTQI Rights

In Fedotova v Russia, the ECtHR found that Russia overstepped the boundaries of its otherwise broad margin of appreciation because it had “no legal framework capable of protecting the applicants’ relationships as same-sex couples has been available under domestic law”. The case foreshadows a future wherein the familiar line of cases advancing the protection of same sex couples will need to be complemented by a jurisprudence that engages with the backslash against LGBTQI rights. Continue reading >>
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Die nackte weibliche Brust als Sittlichkeits- und Rechtsproblem

Ende Juni löste eine in Berlin lebende Frau einen Polizeieinsatz aus, weil sie bei hochsommerlichen Temperaturen am Wasserspielplatz „Plansche“ im Plänterwald mit freiem Oberkörper ruhte und ihre Brust auf Aufforderung der Parkaufseher hin nicht bedecken wollte. Das Argument, sie wolle mit Männern mit freiem Oberköper gleichbehandelt werden, wurde nicht akzeptiert. Ist ein Polizeieinsatz wegen einer unbedeckten weiblichen Brust an einem öffentlich zugänglichen Wasserspielplatz mit Liegewiese im Park eine staatlich zu verantwortende gleichheitswidrige Sexualisierung der weiblichen Brust? Continue reading >>
16 Juli 2021

Will Russia Yield to the ECtHR?

On 13 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights published its judgment in Fedotova and Others v. Russia, a case which concerned the lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the Russian legal system. The judges found the Russian laws to be in violation of Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life and Article 14 – prohibition of discrimination. However, it is highly unlikely that Russia will enforce the judgment. Continue reading >>
14 Juli 2021

Human Rights As Hate Speech

On 15 June 2021, the Hungarian Parliament passed Act no. LXXIX of 2021 which pursued a homophobic and transphobic agenda, curtailing the rights of LGBTQI people. The law was received with unprecedentedly harsh criticism, to which the Hungarian government responded in a resolution, adopted on 6 July. In it, human rights arguments are dismissed as a form of Western indoctrination. Continue reading >>
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An Appeal to Polish Authorities

On 23 June, Bartosz Kramek, a Polish activist and the Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), a Poland-based international NGO on the frontlines of the fight for the rule of law in the country, was arrested by he Internal Security Agency. Mr Kramek is currently under unconditional pre-trial detention. The court approved placing him under detention with a bail of 300,000 PLN to be delivered by 8 July 2021. The prosecutor filed an objection, which means that, irrespective of the payment, Mr Kramek will not be released until the court’s decision becomes final, that is, until the second-instance court examines the prosecutor’s appeal. If the court agrees, a well-known government critic and civic activist will be put behind bars for at least 3 months, making him a political prisoner in an EU Member State. Continue reading >>
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13 Juli 2021

Machines Learning the Rule of Law

On 21 April 2021, the European Commission proposed the world’s first Artificial Intelligence Act, with the intention to explicitly protect the rule of law against the “rule of technology”. Despite this expressed goal, the normative power of the regulation raises serious concerns from the perspective of fundamental rights protection. Continue reading >>

Two Almost Identical Chambers Doing the Same Job Twice

On July 8th, the Italian Parliament adopted in the last reading an amendment to the constitution which lowers the voting age in Senate elections from 25 to 18 years. At first glance, an ode to democracy: the amendment eventually grants the right to vote for the upper chamber of the national Parliament to some 4 million young citizens. In reality, the amendment is the (so far) last step of a fragmented and schizophrenic set of reforms that are gradually dismantling the logic of the constitution of 1948 without proposing an alternative constitutional strategy. Continue reading >>
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12 Juli 2021

An Ordinary Result for the Rule of Law

Late on Wednesday 7 July, former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police. He thus just about complied with the Constitutional Court’s judgment on 29 June, which found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment. This is not a victory for the rule of law. It simply is the rule of law. Continue reading >>
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The Limits of Indirect Deterrence of Asylum Seekers

The ECtHR judgment M.A. v. Denmark is significant for several reasons. Firstly, because it adds to an already growing international criticism of Denmark’s asylum and immigration policy. Secondly, because the judgment helps clarify the Court’s position on an issue, family reunification for refugees, where case law has hitherto been somewhat ambiguous, and where several European States have introduced new restrictions since 2015. Third, and finally, the judgment represents – to paraphrase Harold Koh - another “way station…in the complex enforcement” of migrant and refugee rights by international human rights institutions. Continue reading >>
09 Juli 2021

Normale Zeiten

Über Pandemie, Asyl, Afghanistan, Fluchthilfe, Sonnencreme und den Drang, in Ruhe gelassen zu werden Continue reading >>
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Normal Times

On the pandemic, asylum, Afghanistan, refugees, sunscreen lotion, and the urge to be left alone Continue reading >>
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Visibility and Crime at Sea

On 30th June 2021, search-and-rescue activists from Sea-Watch witnessed a brutal attack by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard against a migrant vessel carrying 64 during an attempted pushback. Now, prosecutors in Sicily have launched an investigation against the Libyan Coast Guard for “attempted shipwreck.” This the first time, a European court opens an investigation against the Libyan Coast Guard, and the fact that an Italian court should do so bears legal and political importance. Continue reading >>
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Rights that are not Illusory

On 8 July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in case Shahzad v. Hungary, concerning the denial of access to an asylum procedure and the forced removal of a Pakistani national by Hungarian police officers. The court found that the acts violated the prohibition of collective expulsion as well as the right to an effective remedy. With this decision, the Court on the one hand straightens out some possible misunderstandings, on the other hand returns to the line of argument opened in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain in ways that should be considered more closely. Continue reading >>
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08 Juli 2021
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Taking the Law Seriously?

One might wonder whether the Commission’s attack on its “friends” in Germany is designed simply to detract attention away from its impotence in the face of growingly-explicit authoritarianism in the Orbán and Kaczyński orbits. We might dismiss the matter with a wry smile were it not for that fact that the Commission is also attacking honest efforts to solve the rule of law dilemmas posed by the original sin of the construction of Economic Union, as well as the well-meaning judicial search for solution to the impossible supremacy-sovereignty conundrum. The PSPP Judgment is far from perfect and has unleashed sometimes rough controversies; however, the tacit approval given to the Commission by so many in their silence about the new proceedings can surely only act to shore up authoritarian egos, concomitantly foreclosing creative judicial responses to our on-going European dilemma of how to maintain and strengthen the rule of law in integration. Continue reading >>
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07 Juli 2021

The EU Cannot Save Us

Many EU and comparative constitutional law scholars have condemned the Polish and Hungarian governments and urged the EU to address the democratic decay and the rule of law deterioration in Poland and Hungary. When the EU fails to deliver, they harshly criticize them and put forward reform proposals. In substance, I agree with much of that. Nevertheless, I would put forward two arguments. The first is that we should be realistic about what we expect these reforms could achieve. The second is that constitutionalists should stop urging the EU to crack down on Poland and Hungary. Instead, they should focus on helping the resilient factors within these countries. Continue reading >>
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Strasbourg and San José Close Ranks

At the end of 2020, for the first time in its more than 40 years of jurisprudential history, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared the arbitrary dismissals of two public prosecutors to be unconventional. Not only judges but also prosecutors are increasingly subject to threats to their independence, both in Latin America and Europe, as well as in other regions. This article addresses the question of whether the same judicial guarantees apply to public prosecutors and attorneys as to judges and looks at how the Inter-American Court sought inspiration from the precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. Continue reading >>
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The New EU Climate Law

On 30 June 2021, the European Parliament and the Council signed the EU Climate Law. The Law has drawn a lot of attention, stirred not least because of its head-line grabbing name. Was it merely meant to be a symbolic law to enshrine the EU’s climate objectives into law and celebrate the EU Green Deal? Or was it meant to be a new governance framework that changes the way decisions are taken on EU and Member State level? Continue reading >>
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06 Juli 2021

A New Constitutional Dawn for Unionism?

In the recent High Court decision on the legislation regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, the court delivers a number of messages which are suitable to deepen divisions in Northern Ireland, and classes international treaties as merely political compromises not suitable for adjudication. If these views were confirmed before the UK Supreme Court, the EU or anyone else would be well advised to be very careful when concluding agreements with the UK, and to pay close attention to effective enforcement mechanisms beyond UK courts. Continue reading >>
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Staatstrojaner für Nachrichtendienste

Der Bundestag hat am 10. Juni 2021 das Gesetz zur Anpassung des Verfassungsschutzrechts verabschiedet, das künftig allen Nachrichtendiensten den Einsatz der reinen und der erweiterten Quellen-Telekommunikationsüberwachung (Quellen-TKÜ) erlaubt. Der Weg nach Karlsruhe ist naheliegend. Denn mit der erweiterten Quellen-TKÜ für Nachrichtendienste handelt es sich um eine noch eingriffsintensivere Maßnahme als bereits 2018 mit der Einführung der Quellen-TKÜ in der Strafprozessordnung. Continue reading >>
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04 Juli 2021

The Grande Synthe Saga Continues

France’s highest administrative court ruled that the French government had failed to take sufficient action to mitigate climate change and ordered it to take additional measures to redress that failure. The Grande Synthe II decision of 1 July 2021 follows the findings by the Conseil d’État in a previous decision that France’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets constitute legal obligations that are enforceable against the state. However, how, and when to redress France’s failure have been, to a broad extent, left to the discretion of the government. This all but ensures the Grande Synthe saga to continue. Continue reading >>
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02 Juli 2021

Openers for Interpretation

On the US Supreme Court and why something needs to be done Continue reading >>

Deutungsöffner

Über den US Supreme Court und warum es so nicht weiter geht Continue reading >>
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So that the Name Hungarian Regain its Dignity

We believe that the replacement of the Fundamental Law is necessary, with a rule of law constitution that restores freedom. The new document should be one created by a democratic constituent power according to newly enacted rules, making every effort to avoid civil war and its usually accompanying violence. In its process of drafting the role of the 1989 round table can be a model, even if we cannot count on the acceptance of its new constitutional draft by 2/3 of the parliament elected in 2022. Continue reading >>
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30 Juni 2021

Neglected Actors at the Conference on the Future of Europe

Judges are prominent actors with a significant impact on European integration. Yet, no references to them appear in the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe. This corresponds to a view, unsustainable in the age of extensive access to information, that judges sit in ivory towers and speak exclusively through their decisions that other actors then explain to the broader public. Continue reading >>
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29 Juni 2021

Too little, too late

A few weeks after the ECtHR first stepped into the ring for the fight against rule of law backsliding in Poland via its Xero Flor judgment, it has now dealt a new blow to the Polish judicial reforms. In its Broda and Bojara ruling, the issue at hand was not the composition of the Constitutional Court, but the termination of judges’ mandates as court (vice) president. In its judgment, the Court showed once more its commitment to the safeguarding of domestic judges and the procedural protection they should enjoy. Yet, one can wonder whether the judgment will really have an impact and if it is not too little too late. Continue reading >>
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Oblique Strategies

On June 25, 2021 Hungary’s two top judges – the president of the Constitutional Court, Tamás Sulyok and the chief justice of the Kúria, András Varga Zs. – warned attendants of a conference on the Fundamental Law of an impending constitutional coup. They were addressing the nation’s legal elite – including the speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor in Chief – on the premises of the Kúria. The guardians of the Fundamental Law activated the language of militant democracy ahead of the 2022 elections. Continue reading >>
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26 Juni 2021

Scheitert „Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen“ an ungültigen Stimmen?

Gestern, am 25. Juni, endete die Sammelfrist des Volksbegehrens „Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen“. Beim Zwischenstand waren von insgesamt rund 197.000 abgegebenen Unterschriften fast 30% ungültig. Der häufigste Grund: die fehlende deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit der Unterschreibenden. Doch ist das Berliner Volksbegehren „Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen“ nur für Deutsche, die in Berlin wohnen, zulässig? Continue reading >>
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25 Juni 2021

Keine Kompromisse

Über Offensichtliches, Kontroverses und was passiert, wenn sich das "normale Volk" nicht im Spiegelbild der demokratischen Wahl erkennt Continue reading >>
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We will not compromise

On the obvious and the controversial and what happens when the "normal people" don't recognise themselves in the mirror of democratic elections Continue reading >>
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The Guardian is Absent

What limits does European Union (EU) law impose on Member States invoking national security to temporarily re-introduce border controls within the Schengen Area? This question will be answered soon by the European court of Justice (ECJ) in the joined cases C-368/20 NW v Landespolizeidirektion Steiermark and C-369/20 NW v Bezirkshauptmannschaft Leibnitz. Continue reading >>
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Attack on the Rights of LGBTQIA+ People in Hungary: Not Just Words, but Deeds as Well?

On 15 June, the Hungarian parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to pass legislation that, in essence, and under the pretext of protecting minors, bans images or content that depicts or ‘promotes’ homosexuality or trans-identity from the public space. The new law adds to a long list of measures already adopted by Hungary over the past several years, that also have the objective of discriminating and stigmatising the LGBTQIA+ population. These measures moreover are part of a wider context of deliberate erosion of liberal democracy in Hungary. The European Union's toolbox reveals its limits here. Why, therefore, not turn to the Council of Europe, with its European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights? Continue reading >>

Constituent Process and Constituent Power

Chile’s constituent process is well underway. Last month, on 16 and 17 May 2021, the election for the 155 members of the Constitutional Convention, the organ responsible for drafting a new constitution, was held. Since then, however, the rules that govern the constituent process have become contested. 34 of the elected members of the Convention issued a declaration on 8 June 2021, claiming that the constituent organ has sovereign character and is not bound by the current constitutional order which came into force under Pinochet’s dictatorship. Continue reading >>
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24 Juni 2021

Is UEFA on “the Other Side of the Rainbow”?

UEFA's stance on the rainbow flag has generated attention around the world. The disciplinary proceedings against Manuel Neuer by UEFA show: sport governing bodies still massively limit the freedom of political expressions by the athletes during big sporting events. Continue reading >>
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Unpersuasive but Wise

On 16 June, by two parallel orders, the EU Court of Justice said the last word on the legality of advocate general Sharpston’s divestment. In the end, the Court did little more than reiterate the press statement it made in response to the member states’ declaration on the subject. The member states made a legitimate decision based on an old custom, and the Court could do nothing but oblige. Continue reading >>

The Northern Ireland Protocol “Sausage Wars”

Five years after the Brexit referendum, the legal stalemate on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland the impasse between the UK and the EU continues, despite the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. While the concept of “state civil disobedience” could be applied to the UK government’s actions since, this is an inappropriate means to conceptualise the conflict. Instead, the more familiar concept of legally justified exceptions to obligations would have been a more appropriate means of pre-empting the dispute during the creation of the Protocol. Continue reading >>

The Digital Services Act wants you to “sue” Facebook over content decisions in private de facto courts

According to Art. 18 of the Commission’s draft for a Digital Services Act, Member States shall certify out-of-court dispute settlement bodies which might - at the request of online platform users - review platform decisions. While well-intentioned, this introduction of quasi-courts is incompatible with European Law. Continue reading >>
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23 Juni 2021
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Military Justice, Journalism and Free Speech in Brazil

On 17 June, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court affirmed that, in the government's view, the Military Justice has competence to try civilians accused of criminal offences against the honor of military institutions. He proposed that crimes related to the freedom of speech should be tried by a special military branch of the judiciary. The attacks on free speech by the government through the Attorney-General is another sign of the democratic erosion process. Continue reading >>
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22 Juni 2021

Chile’s Kaleidoscopic Constituent Assembly

Chile is getting rid of Pinochet — at long last. Last month, Chileans elected a constituent assembly that will draft a constitutional text to replace the current Constitution, which the dictator imposed in 1980. Though the result of the deliberative process that will soon commence is uncertain, one thing is sure: Chile’s constituent assembly resembles the country in ways that no political arrangement had allowed so far. Continue reading >>
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20 Juni 2021

Predictable and Unsatisfying

Most EU lawyers have already seen it looming on the horizon: On 16 June 2021, former Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston lost the legal dispute against her former employer, the European Court of Justice. Although the outcome in this regard was predictable, the decision is overall somewhat unsatisfying. The CJEU seems to be of that opinion in finding that Sharpston’s mandate ended automatically with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. The Court does so without revealing its legal considerations and interpretation of EU primary law in its reasoning. Continue reading >>
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19 Juni 2021
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CJEU’s Independence and Lawful Composition in Question (Part V)

The Sharpston Affair is over, at least as a matter of proceedings before the CJEU. The litigation had aimed at saving the CJEU’s dignity, but the opposite result has been achieved. At the critical juncture when the CJEU’s authority stands contested by the courts of established democracies, the phony panels of the ‘illiberal’ ones, as well as the immature in-betweens, the CJEU managed to pour oil into the fire and signed off its own lack of independence: when it is needed the most, its legitimacy is in the doghouse. Continue reading >>
18 Juni 2021

You are bound

On the law and the force and the possibility of proven murderers walking free Continue reading >>
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Du bist gebunden

Über das Recht, die Kraft und die Möglichkeit, dass überführte Mörder frei herumlaufen Continue reading >>

“Non-Existent”

Last Tuesday, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal delivered a ruling which makes the extent of the crisis of the rule of law in Poland unambiguously clear. And it shows how the gap with Europe is widening day by day. If the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe lets this pass, it will not only be a blow to the authority and effectiveness of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. Then the guardians of the rule of law will have surrendered even faster than we thought. Continue reading >>

Ultra Vires Control and European Democracy

On 9 June 2021, the European Commission filed infringement proceedings against the Federal Republic of Germany. Though the infringement procedure has been welcomed by some scholars as a necessary reaction of the Commission, I argue that initiating the infringement procedure is politically unwise, legally questionable, and ultimately unfounded. Continue reading >>

„Ne bis in idem“ – auch für Mörder?

Vergangenen Freitag, am 11. Juni 2021, hat der Bundestag einen Gesetzentwurf der Fraktionen CDU/CSU und SPD behandelt. Inhalt: Wiederaufnahme im Strafprozess nach rechtskräftigem Freispruch bei Verbrechen wegen Mordes und Verbrechen nach VStGB. Der Entwurf führt ausdrucksstark an, dass die bisherige Rechtslage zu „schlechterdings unerträglichen Ergebnissen führen würde“. Doch Gegner des Vorhabens sehen die Rechtssicherheit in Gefahr, die anders zu beantworten sind, als dies der Gesetzentwurf macht. Continue reading >>

A Tale of Primacy Part. II

On 18 May 2021, the CJEU issued a judgment on several requests for preliminary ruling by Romanian national courts regarding the impact of EU law on Romanian laws on the judiciary and the CVM. On 8 June, the Romanian Constitutional Court issued a decision pertaining to the subject. In a succession of legal nonsense, it shattered hope that the CJEU’s judgment could be a guide for national courts for applying the primacy of the EU law. Continue reading >>
17 Juni 2021

A Hidden Revolution

European data protection law has become (in-)famously known as one of the main tools for both the European legislature and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to push the boundaries of European integration. The most recent decision of the Court in Case C-645/19, 15 June 2021 – Facebook Ireland continues this well-established tradition. What may at first glance appear as a rather technical ruling might initiate a hidden revolution and lead to an unprecedented step for the ever-closer integration of the EU’s legal order. Continue reading >>
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16 Juni 2021
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Corona Constitutional #60: Jetzt also auch in Kanada?

Kanada, die andere große Demokratie in Nordamerika, wo es so viel friedlicher, freundlicher und, ja, demokratischer zugeht als drunten in den USA – sollte man meinen. Aber im größten Bundesstaat Ontario gibt es einen Regierungschef namens Doug Ford, der gelegentlich mit Donald Trump verglichen wird und jetzt etwas ganz Außerordentliches getan hat: Kurzerhand lies er durch Parlamentsbeschluss ein Gerichtsurteil suspendieren, das ein von seiner Mehrheit im Parlament in Toronto beschlossenes Gesetz zur Wahlkampffinanzierung für verfassungswidrig erklärt hatte. So etwas geht in Kanada. Über die so genannte Notwithstanding Clause in der kanadischen Verfassung, die genau das ermöglicht, spricht Max Steinbeis mit CARISSIMA MATHEN, Professorin für Verfassungsrecht an der Universität von Ottawa. Continue reading >>
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A Hollow Threat

On 10 June, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the application of the Conditionality Regulation and threatens to take the EU Commission to Court. However, the very peculiar ‘action for failure to act’ set out in Article 265 TFEU is not an appropriate procedure to solve the problem at issue. The Parliament should employ the more political means at its disposal to tackle a problem that is ultimately political in nature. Continue reading >>
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The Demise of Viking and Laval

In Viking and Laval, the ECJ reduced the right of trade unions to take collective action and made it subject to the requirements of the four freedoms, effectively undermining its recognition as a fundamental right according to EU law. This sent shockwaves through the trade unions of Europe. In its recent Holship ruling, the ECtHR has challenged this, with potentially wide-reaching implications for the relationship between the human rights and EU fundamental freedoms, seen from the perspective of Strasbourg. Continue reading >>
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15 Juni 2021

The Courts Strike Back

The Shell case, decided by the Hague District Court on 26 May 2021, is part of a growing body of climate cases. What the Shell case does is that it liberates the political-decision maker from the suffocating grip of investor state dispute settlement mechanisms, in particular the mechanism under the Energy Charter Treaty. Continue reading >>

No Country for ‘Old Men’

On 2 June 2021, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted a bill on the status of oligarchs before the Ukrainian parliament. The bill would have wide-ranging implications. It does not only provide a definition of who counts as an oligarch but also provides measures to reduce the influence of oligarchs in media and public life. Continue reading >>
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From Russia with Love

On 15 June, the Hungarian Parliament is expected to vote on a legislative package on stricter actions against paedophile offenders. Attached to this noble cause, the ruling party seeks to prohibit the “representation” and “promotion” of LGBTI identities to minors. The proposal would outlaw almost any mention of sexual and gender minorities in schools. Continue reading >>
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The Power of Open Norms

In a judgement of 26 May, the District Court of the Hague found that Royal Dutch Shell has an “individual responsibility” to limit its carbon emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030. Notable about the ruling is the unwritten standard of care functioning as an open norm, facilitating the accountability of private power. The openness of legal categories not only entails a potential to drive forward social change, but it also implicitly highlights the political role and nature of private law. Continue reading >>
14 Juni 2021

Does the End of the Netanyahu Government Mark the End of “Democratic Backsliding” in Israel?

What does the end of the Netanyahu era mean for “constitutional populism” in Israel, where the “Nation-State Law" was cited as one of the main components of an “anti-constitutional” revolution? To answer these questions, we should recall that the Israeli version of “democratic decline”/constitutional crisis/populism developed against a complex background. The most important element of it is the attempt to entrench Israel’s ethnic nature as a “Jewish state,” against liberal currents epitomized for the right wing in several rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court. Continue reading >>

Defending Democracy with Authoritarian Means

Brazilian Congress is currently discussing a legislative proposal to replace the current Law of National Security, enacted during the time of the military dictatorship in Brazil. It revokes the current Law of National Security and introduces a new section to Brazil’s Criminal Code defining various crimes against democracy, such as political violence, the dissemination of fake news in electoral campaigns and sabotage against democratic institutions. Continue reading >>
12 Juni 2021

Die Ultra-vires-Kontrolle als notwendiger Baustein der europäischen Demokratie

Am 9. Juni 2021 hat die Europäische Kommission, in Antwort auf das PSPP-Urteil des Bundesverfassungsgerichts vom 5. Mai 2020, ein Vertragsverletzungsverfahren gegen die Bundesrepublik Deutschland eingereicht. Dieses Vertragsverletzungsverfahren ist politisch unklug, rechtlich unzulässig und womöglich unbegründet. Allerdings birgt es auch das Potential, die unionsrechtliche Zulässigkeit des Rechtsinstituts der Ultra-vires-Kontrolle festzustellen. Continue reading >>
11 Juni 2021

What do I know about Kashmir?

On fear, complacency, and wild, remote regions Continue reading >>
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Was weiß ich denn schon über Kaschmir?

Über Angst und Zufriedenheit und wilde, entfernte Gegenden Continue reading >>

A Matter of Principle

On 9 June 2021, the European Commission announced that it is bringing an infringement procedure against Germany for breach of fundamental principles of EU law. The procedure is less about the possible outcomes and more a matter of principle. By launching it, the Commission is emphasizing the notion of equality between the member states. Continue reading >>

Kenya and the BBI Five

On May 13 this year, a five-judge bench of the Kenya High Court struck down a state effort to amend Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. The ruling was a shocker when it came down. Will the Court of Appeal rescue or sink President Kenyatta? Continue reading >>

Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

On 10 June 2021, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the Rule of Law situation in the European Union and the application of the Conditionality Regulation. In this Resolution, the European Parliament expresses its concerns about the regression of the democratic situation in several member States and regrets the inaction of other institutions, notably the Council and the Commission. Continue reading >>
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10 Juni 2021

Constitutional Triumph or Constitutional Aberration?

The Kenyan Hight Court's incorporation of the basic structure doctrine into the Kenyan constitutional framework has been generally received as a cause for celebration among constitutional scholars. This article, however, calls for some restraint in the growing scholarly celebration of efforts to expand the basic structure doctrine. Continue reading >>
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09 Juni 2021
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Nicaragua’s Electoral Counter-Reform

On 4 May 2021, the Nicaraguan National Assembly adopted an electoral reform. Alongside other legislative acts that limit civil society’s operating space, the electoral reform not only sets a gloomy outlook for presidential elections scheduled in Nicaragua for November this year. The reform also violates Inter-American democratic standards as it severely restricts the independence of political parties and leaves the Supreme Electoral Council under significant influence of Nicaragua’s governing party and president. Continue reading >>
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Shell’s Climate Obligation

On 26 May, the District Court of The Hague ruled that the fossil fuels company Royal Dutch Shell needs to reduce its emissions by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2019. Precisely, the court held Shell responsible for its entire production and supply chain. The ruling will greatly advance the implementation of Article 2 of the Paris Agreement and climate-related human rights. Continue reading >>
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Standing for Piglets

In a non-acceptance order of 14 May 2021, the German Federal Constitutional Court refused to accept a constitutional complaint submitted by the German Branch of the animal rights organization PETA for adjudication. The Constitutional Court missed an opportunity to open the constitution to non-anthropocentric approaches. A constitutional amendment might be necessary to explicitly terminate the long-standing mediatization of the natural environment with its negative consequences for the effectiveness of environmental law and protection. Continue reading >>
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Framing and Raiding

In early June 2021, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office raided the Ministry of Interior and raised charges against a senior employee. According to the Minister of Interior Boyko Rashkov, the goal of the Prosecutor’s Office is to sabotage an inquiry into illegal wiretapping. A similar raid against the Bulgarian Presidency in July 2020 sparked mass protests. Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office has an unrestrained authority that is used as a weapon against the opponents of the status quo. Continue reading >>
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08 Juni 2021

Für immer dein Feind?

Debatten über Parteiausschlüsse und andere parteiordnungsrechtliche Maßnahmen nehmen zurzeit einen breiten Raum in der öffentlichen Debatte ein. Der konkrete Umgang mit Ausreißern, wie der WerteUnion oder Boris Palmer, könnte für die jeweiligen Parteien mehr Folgen haben, als ihnen bewusst sein dürfte. Continue reading >>
07 Juni 2021
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Fighting Platforms and the People, not the Pandemic

To control social media-driven criticism against its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, can now take advantage of new powers via the Information Technology Rules 2021. These Rules empower the Modi government to counter disinformation, whose definition seems to have been stretched to include content that portrays the government negatively. How Big Tech platforms react will have a domino effect on users’ freedom of expression and right to privacy across the world. Continue reading >>
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04 Juni 2021

After he’s gone

Bibi's fall and how to find back from authoritarian populism to democratic politics Continue reading >>
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Wenn er weg ist

Bibis Sturz und wie man aus dem autoritären Populismus in die demokratische Politik zurückfindet Continue reading >>

Borderline Games with Bosnia

A ‘non-paper’ sent shockwaves throughout Brussels and the Western Balkans this April, proposing to redraw borders along ethnic lines. It follows a common nationalist narrative, and distracts from necessary reform processes in the region to effectively cater citizens’ needs. In the case of BiH, substantial constitutional changes are needed for the country to become a more stable democracy and eventually an EU member state. Continue reading >>
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03 Juni 2021
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From Denmark to Damascus

In recent weeks, Denmark made international headlines with its refusal to extend residence permits for Syrian subsidiary protection holders in Denmark from the Damascus province. Denmark’s emergence as the first state in Europe to end the protection of Syrians on the basis of improved conditions in the wider Damascus area is the result of a self-described ‘paradigm shift’ in Danish refugee policy dating back to 2015. Continue reading >>
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02 Juni 2021

The Making and Unmaking of a Constitutional Crisis in Samoa

Politics in the Pacific island state of Samoa rarely attract international attention. Last week, however, Samoa grabbed global headlines as two leaders each claimed the Prime Ministership after a closely contested election. The constitutional issues surrounding this crises are complex and growing in number by the day. Continue reading >>
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Procedural Fetishism and Mass Surveillance under the ECHR

On 25th May 2021, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR ruled in the case Big Brother Watch v. UK that some aspects of the UK’s surveillance regime violated Articles 8 and 10 of the ECHR. Big Brother Watch is the first decision on mass surveillance since the Snowden revelations and sets a standard, grounded in “procedural fetishism”, which endorses the legality of bulk surveillance operations. Continue reading >>
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A Tale of Primacy

In its 18 May ruling Asociația „Forumul Judecătorilor din România”, the ECJ took a solid stance on the primacy of EU law by recognizing the binding nature of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism established by the European Commission with respect to Romania in 2007. The judgment is a genuine guide to national courts on applying the primacy of EU law, especially as regards controversial issues such as the judicial independence and rule of law. Continue reading >>
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01 Juni 2021
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India’s New Intermediary Guidelines

On 26 May, the Indian Intermediaries Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code 2021 (IT Rules) took effect. These new rules vest more power over speech online with the executive, who may misuse these powers to quell dissent. Continue reading >>
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An Austrian Abyss of Cronyism and Corruption

The Kurz government has been involved in a series of scandals, culminating on 12 May with the Chancellor becoming subject of a formal investigation for allegedly providing false testimony before Parliament. In attempts to cover up the governments’ involvement in the various scandals, the rule of law has certainly been challenged in Austria. However, so far, the Austrian Rechtsstaat prevailed. Continue reading >>

Big Brother’s Little, More Dangerous Brother

On 25 May 2021, the European Court of Human Rights issued judgments in two connected cases: Big Brother Watch v. UK and Centrum för Rättvisa v. Sweden. Both cases involved the review of bulk interception of communications, described by its critics as “mass surveillance”. The Swedish example has attracted less criticism from the ECtHR than the UK, and can be construed as a model law. However, the Swedish legislation is highly opaque and the ECtHR's scrutiny has fallen short. Continue reading >>
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31 Mai 2021

‚Religiously‘ following science

On Wednesday, 26 May Dominic Cummings spoke in a 7-hour-long evidence session in front of the Joint Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee of the British House of Commons. He made clear at least three things that are interesting for students of constitutionalism, and, in particular, of the implicit constitutionalism that determines the relationship between scientific expertise and power. Continue reading >>

Mehr als nur empfundene Verpflichtung

Mit dem Ende der NATO Mission „Resolute Support“ in Afghanistan ist das Leben afghanische Ortskräfte in akuter Gefahr. Ihr Schutz durch die Bundesrepublik ist nicht nur moralisch geboten, sondern ergibt sich auch aus der Schutpflichtdimension der Grundrechte. Continue reading >>
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30 Mai 2021
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Saving the Constitution from Politics

On May 23, 2021, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) delivered an important decision setting and defining the limits for the use of Basic Laws – laws of a constitutional ranking – for the purpose of solving temporary political and coalition problems. The Basic Laws are supposed to be “the crown jewels” of our constitutional system, yet in Israeli politics they have become an instrumental tool for narrow and everyday political interest, often amended in a temporary manner. The decision, given by a 6-3 majority of an extended bench, now defines some constitutional boundaries for the proper use of Basic Laws. Continue reading >>
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Good European Neighbours

On 21 May 2021 the Vice-President of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Ms Rosario Silva de Lapuerta granted interim measures in the case of Czech Republic v Poland, ordering Poland to immediately cease lignite extraction activities in the Turów mine.  An action against a Member State which might have breached an EU directive – in this case by extending a lignite mining permit without carrying out an environmental impact assessment – may seem like an ordinary environmental case falling under the remit of EU law. The Czech Republic v Poland case, however, is anything but ordinary for at least two reasons. Continue reading >>
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28 Mai 2021

Borders

On Zittau, environmental impact and what we can get used to and what not Continue reading >>
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Grenzen

Über Zittau, Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfungen und woran wir uns gewöhnen können und woran nicht Continue reading >>
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Masks, vaccines, and investment promises

When the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the spread of the virus was already under control in China. Ever since Beijing has been engaging in widespread health diplomacy. China aims to promote the image of China as a “responsible great power” and of Western states in as powers in decline that are unable to provide solutions for complex international affairs. Continue reading >>
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Shell’s Responsibility for Climate Change

On 26 May 2021, the District Court of the Hague rendered a judgment  in the case Milieudefensie v Royal Dutch Shell that can rightly be called revolutionary. This is the first judgment of its kind in which a multinational corporation is held responsible, in part based on international law, for its contribution to climate change. Continue reading >>
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The Amazon Rainforest under Attack

On 13 May, the Brazilian lower house approved a controversial Bill on Environmental Licensing. The Bill has yet to receive the Senate’s final approval, but it has already attracted much criticism. The actual target of the Bill is thinly veiled: The Amazon region, where it could lead to increasing deforestation. The Bill is just another step in the regressive, anti-environment agenda implemented by the current Brazilian government. Continue reading >>
27 Mai 2021

The Admissibility Hurdle

The entry into force of a new Protocol in August 2021 indicates that the ECtHR will implement even more stringent admissibility criteria which provides the institution with more tools to reject legitimate applications and to hide the political motivation behind such decisions. The European Court of Human Rights has long faced burning criticism for declaring applications inadmissible when faced with prima facie flagrant human rights abuses by autocratic regimes, such as Turkey, putting in question the credibility of the Court which is expected to be a center of legal excellence. Continue reading >>

Workers vs Algorithms

On 11 May, Spain passed a new provision that regulates algorithmic transparency in the employment field. This new norm gives workers the right to be informed about the parameters, rules and instructions via which algorithms or artificial intelligence systems impact their working conditions and determine access to employment. The provision, for its novelty, appears to be ambitious, but its potential limitations and practical consequences will determine its success. Continue reading >>
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25 Mai 2021

Unilateral Trade Measures in Times of Geopolitical Rivalry

The European Union’s unilateral trade policy is in motion. On 5 May 2021, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to tackle foreign subsidies; in March 2021, the Commission launched a public consultation on an ‘anti-coercion’ instrument. As the EU is entering a new era of economic statecraft, a new balance between democratic accountability and efficient decision-making is needed. Continue reading >>

„Elfes“ Revisited?

So überzeugend der Klimabeschluss des BVerfG im Hinblick auf die strukturelle Koppelung der planetaren Grenzen in Form des 1,5-2 Grad-Ziels mit Art. 20a GG im Ergebnis ist, so sehr wirft doch der grundrechtliche Weg dahin in rechtsdogmatischer Hinsicht viele Fragen auf. Ich konzentriere mich in diesem Beitrag auf die Frage, ob der Erste Senat die berühmte, aber zugleich auch umstrittene „Elfes“-Konstruktion fruchtbar macht und in diesem Rahmen einen im Hinblick auf die Grundrechtsdogmatik tragfähigen und zukunftsweisenden Weg beschritten hat. Continue reading >>
22 Mai 2021

The BBI Judgment and the Invention of Kenya

On 13 May 2021, the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya delivered its judgment in David Ndii and Others vs The Attorney General and Others, widely referred to as the BBI judgment. The shape and future of the constitution is not all that is contested. So too is Kenya’s history. Continue reading >>
21 Mai 2021

Dance of Courts

State, federal and EU constitutional law and the emergence of black holes on the legal map of Europe Continue reading >>
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Tanz der Gerichte

Länder-, Bundes- und EU-Verfassungsrecht und das Auftauchen von schwarzen Löchern auf der Landkarte Europas Continue reading >>
20 Mai 2021

Delhi’s Disempowerment

A recent amendment passed by the Indian Parliament enhances the power of the Central government’s representative of Delhi, and impedes the governing autonomy of the elected government in Delhi. The seeds of this potentially unconstitutional amendment lie in the Indian Supreme Court’s (SC) ambiguous and imprecise judicial reasoning in a case concerning the power tussle between the Delhi Government and the Central government. Continue reading >>
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Alibaba: Punishment and Collaboration

On 6 April 2021, Alibaba, a leading e-commerce platform, was fined $2.75 billion for abuse of dominance in the Chinese market. In the weeks that followed, Chinese regulators started investigations into other giants of the platform economy, for similar anti-competitive conduct. They signify a shift in Chinese regulators’ strong determination to crack down on monopolistic conduct. Continue reading >>
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19 Mai 2021
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Academic Freedom Under Attack in Brazil

Can the chief of a constitutional organization akin to an ombudsman prosecute a law professor who criticized him in a newspaper article? Apparently, because Brazilian Prosecutor General just filed a complaint against Constitutional Law Professor Conrado Hübner Mendes. This attack follows a wave of democratic erosion that includes attacks on universities, intellectualism, and the diversity of ideas. Continue reading >>
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The Basic Structure Doctrine arrives in Kenya

On 13 May 2021, a panel of five High Court justices ruled that the so-called Basic Structure Doctrine applies in Kenya. The judgment is not only a milestone from the perspective of comparative constitutional law; it might also change the future landscape of constitutionalism in Africa. Continue reading >>
18 Mai 2021

A Ghost that Haunts European Democracies

In Turkey, Spain and Poland, lèse-majesté laws are weaponised against opposition: The conviction and imprisonment of Marxist rapper Pablo Hasél sparked mass protests across Spain, and the 20-year-old Wiktoria K. who shouted “f*** Duda” during last year’s demonstrations and received a guilty verdict on grounds of “insulting the President” in March 2021. The very existence of lèse-majesté laws poses a threat to the right to dissent. It is a vital democratic duty to cast such laws into the dustbin of history. Continue reading >>

The UK’s Online Safety Bill: Safe, Harmful, Unworkable?

On 12 May 2021, the UK Government published the long-awaited Online Safety Bill. While the UK Government aims to show “global leadership with our groundbreaking laws to usher in a new age of accountability for tech and bring fairness and accountability to the online world”, this claim is more than doubtful. Continue reading >>
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17 Mai 2021

Nation of Animal Lovers

On May 12, 2021, the UK government published an Action Plan for Animal Welfare setting out reform plans to protect animals both within its borders and overseas. In this plan, the UK government pledges to further steps in its efforts to promote animal welfare and to recognize animals as sentient beings in law. As the ‘Nation of Animal Lovers’ the UK has a comparatively impressive record of animal welfare legislation. Yet, the tone of government communication is tainted by adversity against the EU in the context of Brexit. Continue reading >>
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The Right of Catalonian Leaders to Protest

On 22 April, the Spanish Constitutional Court issued its first judgement on the constitutionality of the conviction of the Catalonian leaders for the events of October 2017. It upheld the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the crime of sedition which blurs the line between legitimate protest and sedition. The judgment will therefore have repercussions beyond this particular case and may affect the right of protest and dissent. Continue reading >>
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Fast-tracking Scotland’s re-entry to the EU

As the dust settles with a pro-independence - though not an SNP - majority in the Scottish Parliament after the May 2021 elections, it is worth considering what an independent Scotland’s (accelerated) path back to the EU could look like. Increasing the speed at which an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU is primarily an issue of political will and domestic preparation. Continue reading >>
16 Mai 2021

Post-Script to the Symposium

The ‘Power and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ Symposium was hosted by the Verfassungsblog, and supported by Democracy Reporting International under the re:constitution program supported by Stiftung Mercator, and the Horizon-2020 RECONNECT project. Over the course of 12 weeks from 22 February to 15 May 2021, the Symposium reported on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on law and legal systems in 64 countries, accompanied by 11 commentaries on transversal themes including human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Continue reading >>
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15 Mai 2021

Power, Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic – Part II: Preparing for Future Emergencies

Involving over 100 contributors worldwide, the 2021 Power and COVID-19 Pandemic series builds on the 2020 COVID-19 and States of Emergency Symposium to again provide snapshot critical analysis of a world in continued crisis and extended emergency. This final commentary in the 2021 Symposium is divided in two parts: first, an analysis of the impact the pandemic has had on legal systems over the course of the last year; and second, an outlook on how to prepare for future emergencies by building on the lessons of the current one. This is part II. Continue reading >>
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Power, Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic – Part I: The Year of Pandemic

Involving over 100 contributors worldwide, the 2021 Power and COVID-19 Pandemic series builds on the 2020 COVID-19 and States of Emergency Symposium to again provide snapshot critical analysis of a world in continued crisis and extended emergency. This final commentary in the 2021 Symposium is divided in two parts: first, an analysis of the impact the pandemic has had on legal systems over the course of the last year; and second, an outlook on how to prepare for future emergencies by building on the lessons of the current one. This is part I. Continue reading >>
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14 Mai 2021

Über Kurz

Kaugummi im System Continue reading >>
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About Kurz

Chewing Gum in the System Continue reading >>
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Our European Society and Its Conference on the Future of Europe

9 May 2021 saw the official launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe. 70 years of Europeanization have not yielded a European people, the treaty maker is saying, nor – God forbid – created a European federal state. They have, however, given rise to a European society. Continue reading >>
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WEBINAR 5: „Quo Vadis? – The Impact of an Extended Emergency“

How has COVID-19 impacted upon legal and political systems; minorities and indigenous peoples; and conflict-affected states in transition? This final panel debates themes of trust, equality, conflict and power, and concludes with a commentary by the convenor of the Symposium who will draw together key findings, emergent threats, and reasons for hope. Continue reading >>
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WEBINAR 4: „The Rule of Law in the Pandemic“

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extreme strain on legal systems, requiring action in response to fast-changing and complex situation of the pandemic emergency. This panel evaluates state action - and in particular, executive-decision making - in response to the pandemic against the standard of the rule of law, and considers whether this will lead to permanent shifts in legal systems worldwide. Continue reading >>
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13 Mai 2021

„Ein Rechtsraum heißt ein Rechtsraum“

Niemand darf wegen einer Straftat, wegen derer er bereits rechtskräftig verurteilt oder freigesprochen worden ist, erneut verfolgt werden. Das besagen Artikel 50 der EU-Grundrechtecharta, und Art. 54 des Schengener Durchführungsübereinkommens. Jetzt hat der Europäische Gerichtshof den Schutzbereich dieses sogenannten Ne-bis-in-idem-Grundsatzes in mehrerer Hinsicht deutlich ausgebaut.  Continue reading >>

Pushbacks sind illegal – und zwar immer

Mittlerweile kann kaum mehr bestritten werden, dass an den europäischen Außengrenzen Menschen zurückgewiesen werden, ohne ihr Schutzgesuch geltend machen zu können und ohne ein Prüfverfahren gewährleistet zu bekommen. Derweil werden immer mehr Stimmen laut, die nicht allein die Tatsachen, sondern zugleich das Recht und damit in Frage stellen, dass sogenannte Pushbacks den Menschenrechten, dem Völkerrecht und dem Europarecht widersprechen. Gründe genug für eine Klarstellung: Pushbacks sind illegal, und zwar immer. Continue reading >>
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WEBINAR 3: „Science, Law and Decision-Making“

Bringing together experts representing states who have adopted divergent attitudes to the role of science in law and decision-making, as well as an examination of vaccination policy, equity and individual choice, this panel considers the complex policy choices, rationales and politics which interplay in decision-making during a pandemic. Continue reading >>
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WEBINAR 2: „Democracy and Disruption“

How has democracy been impacted by over a year of pandemic response and emergency? How have states ensured the democratic accountability of their actions in response to the global health emergency? What lessons can be learned for now, and for the future? This panel examines democratic practices, and highlights the best – and most concerning – developments. Continue reading >>
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12 Mai 2021

Short but Sweet

On 11 May 2021, Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev issued a decree appointing a caretaker government, which means that the dissolution of the 45th National Assembly is imminent. This National Assembly, which was first convened on 15 April 2021, was rather short-lived, but it paved the way to fairer elections and much needed reforms in the justice system which civil society demands. Continue reading >>
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WEBINAR 1: „Human Rights and the COVID-19 Pandemic“

COVID-19 – and state responses to it - present a threat to human rights unparalleled in the contemporary era. At the same time, human rights offer a universal framework which guides decision-makers, ensures accountability for their actions and omissions, and renders visible the structural inequalities which drives the pandemic’s differential impact on certain communities. Looking forward, this panel discusses how human rights can be used to underpin a just and sustainable post-pandemic recovery. Continue reading >>
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Webinar Series: Power and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Marking the conclusion of the "Power and the COVID-19 Pandemic" Symposium, this webinar series brings together contributors from around the world to discuss the impact of the pandemic on law and governance, drawing on five transversal themes: human rights; democracy; the rule of law; science and decision-making; and the impact of an extended emergency. Continue reading >>
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11 Mai 2021
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Trump’s Indefinite Ban

After months of waiting, the Facebook Oversight Board has upheld Facebook’s ban of former President Donald Trump. Beyond the merits, the decision underlines a trend showing how the FOB is applying protections of free speech. The FOB’s increasing reliance on the principle of proportionality and transparency is a paradigmatic example of an ever-growing distance to the First Amendment dogma characterising US constitutionalism and the proximity to the European (digital) constitutional approach. Continue reading >>
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A Stress Test for Politics: Insights from the Comparative Covid Response Project (CompCoRe) 2020

The CompCoRe study, an ongoing qualitative comparison of policy responses to Covid-19 in sixteen core countries and two affiliates, begun in April 2020, sought to identify and explain patterns of perceived success and failure in managing this multifaceted crisis. [...] As national and international authorities look to futures beyond Covid-19, a lesson emerging from our study is that they should revisit their institutional processes for integrating scientific and political consensus-building. If free citizens are unable to see how expertise is serving the collective good, they will sooner rebel against the experts than give up their independence. Just as a sound mind is said to require a sound body, so the coronavirus has shown that the credibility of public health expertise depends on the health of the body politic. Continue reading >>
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10 Mai 2021

The World Turned Upside Down

Gates’ charitable foundation and the World Health Organization launched the app ‘GoGiveOne’ where individuals can donate money to ensure ‘vaccines for everyone, everywhere’. It sounds like an opportunity to respond to the crisis. But individualizing a structural problem prevents any real solution to it. Continue reading >>

The ECtHR Steps into the Ring

For the last two years, the fight for safeguarding the principle of the rule of law in Poland has been dominated by the ECJ’s case law. During this, the Strasbourg Court has mostly been sitting in the bleachers. Yet, with its Xero Flor judgment of 7 May, it strapped on its gloves and stepped into the ring. It concluded that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, in its current composition, cannot be seen as a tribunal established by law. The decision will undoubtedly have major political and legal consequences. Continue reading >>
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Separation of Powers in Climate Cases

On 29 April 2021, the Bundesverfassungsgericht published its decision that the Federal Climate Change Act of 12 December 2019, establishing national climate targets and annual emission amounts allowed until 2030, violates fundamental rights. Do the judges in such a case undermine separation of powers as a time-honoured achievement of modern constitutional democracies in order to force the political branches to take urgently necessary actions? No. By allocating different functions to the three branches, executive, legislature, and judiciary, separation of powers aims to ensure that the tension between law and majoritarian politics is perpetuated and that neither law nor politics dominates the other. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19 vaccines: How Structural Factors Can Vitiate Patient Autonomy and Dictate Vaccine Choice

Financial self-interest, fiscal considerations, geopolitics, sovereignty, governance, protectionism, and nationalism are currently dictating COVID-19 vaccine procurement at the macro level. Such structural factors indirectly vitiate autonomy at the grassroots level and run counter to the ideal that individuals should have access to the highest attainable standard of health. Continue reading >>
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09 Mai 2021

What Should and What Will Happen After Xero Flor

On 7 May 2021, the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgment in a case concerning irregularities in the personal composition of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. The ECtHR found a violation of “the right to a tribunal established by law” due to fact that the decision on the discontinuation of the proceedings concerning a constitutional complaint filed by a Polish company was issued by the Constitutional Tribunal with the participation of a person who was unlawfully elected to the position of judge. The said judgment is the first ruling of an international body finding that the irregularities in the functioning of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal violate international law. Continue reading >>
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08 Mai 2021

Climate Revolution with Weaknesses

With a real bang, the German Federal Constitutional Court has adjudicated what is probably the most far-reaching decision ever made by a supreme court worldwide on climate protection. This does not preclude the fact that the decision also has considerable weaknesses. Continue reading >>
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Muddling through Mutation Times or the Return of Federalism in Austria

While the Austrian government´s reactions during the first wave of Covid-19 in spring 2020 are considered to have been successful, disillusionment followed in the fall 2020 with a second wave, for which the government did not seem to have prepared properly. The third period (January to April 2021), on which I will focus in this blog entry, shows a mixed performance of the government. Continue reading >>
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07 Mai 2021
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Three Crises and One Waiver

On patents, pandemics, and old hues on new world maps Continue reading >>
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Drei Krisen und ein Waiver

Über Pharmapatente, die WTO und alte Farbtöne auf neuen Corona-Inzidenzweltkarten Continue reading >>
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The Price of Limiting Power

On 18 April 2021, Mongolia’s political landscape was hit by an unexpected event: President Battulga Khaltmaa issued an official decree in which he suggested to dissolve Mongolia’s 100-year-old ruling party, the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP). What appears to be a political problem at first glance, points to a deeper crisis of Mongolia’s constitutional democracy. Continue reading >>
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A Failed State in the Making

On 4 May 2021, the Senate house in Zimbabwe approved the Constitutional Amendment No.2, 2019 with a two-thirds majority. The bill is now on its way to the executive for signature and incorporation into the constitution. However, the bill features three concerning clauses linked to judicial independence and the prosecutor general's appointment. The future of democracy and the rule of law looks gloomy for Zimbabwe. Continue reading >>
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Soziale Netzwerke in der Grundrechts-Klemme?

Seit 2018 häufen sich Klagen, mit denen sich Nutzer dagegen wehren, dass ihre Beiträge auf sozialen Netzwerken wie Facebook gelöscht werden. Gegenteilig will die Grünen-Politikerin Renate Künast nun vor der Richterbank Facebook dazu zwingen, konsequent(er) gegen Falschmeldungen vorzugehen. Netzwerkbetreiber drohen so in eine Klemme zwischen Meinungsfreiheit und Persönlichkeitsschutz zu geraten. Continue reading >>
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A Government (Un)Governed?

On 16 December 2020, despite rising rates of infection and the widely predicted ‘second wave’ already impacting neighbouring European countries, Prime Minister Boris Johnson mocked the opposition for wanting to ‘cancel Christmas’ by reintroducing nationwide lockdown restrictions. Three days later, a nationwide lockdown in England was introduced (inadvertently mimicking the March 2020 commitment that London had ‘zero prospect’ of lockdown, four days before it was enforced). The lockdown – closing schools, universities and a majority of businesses which were deemed non-essential and prohibiting gatherings of more than two people outdoors from separate households – continued until 12 April 2021 when restrictions began to be lessened through a phased ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. Such political hyperbole by the executive and lax response, followed by sudden U-turn policy making (‘essay crisis’ governance) and severely restrictive measures, have characterised much of the response to the pandemic in the UK. Continue reading >>
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06 Mai 2021

The Use of Emergency Powers in Response to COVID-19 in The Gambia

More than a year after the pandemic was first reported in The Gambia, the state is returning to ordinary processes. Many COVID-related restrictions have been lifted, allowing businesses, markets, schools, restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, and nightclubs to resume normal operations, and borders to be open. However, from 8 March 2021, police permits will no longer be issued for music festivals, political events, and other forms of social gatherings. This comes against the backdrop of the country’s limited resources, weak healthcare systems, and ineffective mitigating measures including social distancing, self-isolation, and avoiding public gatherings to prevent further spread of the virus. Continue reading >>
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05 Mai 2021

Possibly Constitutional, But Not This Way

Earlier this year, the Parliament of the Autonomous Community of Galicia, Spain, amended the regional Health Act of Galicia to introduce, inter alia, the possibility to impose administrative fines on people who ‘unjustifiably refuse’ to comply with an order to be vaccinated against a given disease. This is the first-ever explicit legislative provision in Spain setting out sanctions for those opposing vaccination. On 21 April, the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal declared an unconstitutionality appeal against the reform of the HAG admissible. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19 and Emergency Powers in Western European Democracies: Trends and Issues

Domestic emergency powers resorted to in the Covid-19 crisis are very different from each other. Is it possible to identify common trends in the comparative scenario? Limiting the scope of the analysis to democratic countries of the Western European area, at least four different tendencies can be identified. Continue reading >>
04 Mai 2021

The State Advances, the People Retreat

It is widely agreed that Wuhan, China is the origin of this pandemic. China has also been criticized for its initial mishandling of the outbreak, including local officials’ cover-up, the incompetence of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and the repression of whistle-blowers. In light of what had happened in other countries, however, China’s subsequent responses were nothing short of miraculous. From its lockdown in Wuhan, to the nationwide joint prevention and control system, from border sealing to mass testing and contact tracing, China’s measures were more intense than almost anywhere else in the world. Continue reading >>
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03 Mai 2021
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I am the State

The final report of the European Commission dealing with its decision on the European subsidies for the companies associated with the Agrofert holding owned by the Czech Prime Minister has been published on 23 April. Babiš' strong reaction not only reveals something about the ongoing conflict of interest, but also about his neo-patrimonial ruling in general. It is clear that Babiš does not distinguish between public and private positions – he treats public property in the same way an entrepreneur treats private property. Continue reading >>
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01 Mai 2021

Democracy and the Global Pandemic

What’s the future of the free world? What does the ‘free world’ even mean? Recent reports from leading democracy assessment bodies depict a shrinking democratic atlas that is more fragmented than it has been for decades after a steep decline in every world region. Continue reading >>
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30 April 2021

Ok, Boomer

Über Regelkreise, Klimawandel und das Bundesverfassungsgericht Continue reading >>

Ok, Boomer

On control loops, climate change and the Federal Constitutional Court Continue reading >>
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Judges for Future

The judgment of 29 April 2021 quashing parts of the Climate Protection Act (CPA) has made history. Not only because the First Senate of the BVerfG put an end to deferring the reduction of greenhouse gasses to the future, or at least to the next government. But because this turn to the future came in the form of a turn to international law and institutions. It is precisely by relying on international law that the court overcomes the counter-majoritarian difficulty commonly tantalizing climate litigation and human rights law generally. The most astonishing fact is, however, that the court entirely avoids the tragic choice between supposedly undemocratic international commitments and the democratic legislature. I argue that it does so by approaching constitutional law in a decidedly postcolonial perspective. Continue reading >>
29 April 2021

The Constitution Speaks in the Future Tense

Who ought to decide on climate issues? Now, the Constitutional Court has decided. It held that the provisions of the Federal Climate Protection Act are “incompatible with fundamental rights insofar as they lack sufficient specifications for further emission reductions from 2031 onwards”. This decision is extraordinary in many ways: in its interpretation of the constitutional obligation to protect the environment (art. 20a of the Basic Law) as much as in its commitment to international cooperation and international law in climate issues. From this decision on, the German constitution will speak in the future tense. Continue reading >>

Between European Commitment and ‚Taking the Law Seriously‘

On 27 April 2021, the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament adopted its much-awaited opinion on the EU’s Own Resources Decision. It established that its approval requires a qualified majority and thus a significant bulk of votes from the opposition, which has been highly critical of the package. Now, for many MPs, the situation creates an impossible dilemma between their European commitment and taking the law seriously. Continue reading >>
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After Orbán

With a view to the 2022 elections, there is a serious contradiction in Hungarian public opinion: There should be a regime change away from Orbán's Fidesz, but the Basic Law, which they have undermined and weaponized, should not be touched. This will not work. In any case, it is necessary to get rid of the present Hungarian constitution. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19 in Kenya a Year Later: A Case of Déjà Vu

What began as a health crisis quickly morphed into an economic, human rights and governance upheaval. In March 2021, we came full circle as we saw a return to excessive law enforcement in the country on account of the third wave of the virus, which has led to a surge in the number of people testing positive and thrown the country back into a state of disarray as poorly resourced health facilities grapple with the influx of cases. Continue reading >>
28 April 2021
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Migrant Workers’ Safety Concerns Should be a Pandemic Priority

In the second year of the pandemic, migrant workers continue to work under precarious conditions, exacerbated by the additional risks associated with Covid-19. Social security assistance in Germany, including health care provisions, requires a minimum of 70 working days before employers are required to contribute. During last year’s agricultural season, the German government raised this minimum to 115 days. This made healthcare the responsibility of one’s country of citizenship, not of one’s employer. This year, in April 2021, the German farming industry has successfully pressured the government to re-extend this provision to 102 days.  Continue reading >>
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The COVID-19 Crisis in Latvia

The government response to COVID-19 in Latvia can be characterised as one of legal caution. Even though successive states of emergency have been used to manage the crisis, adequate parliamentary and judicial oversight has resulted in broadly proportional handling of the pandemic. Continue reading >>
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Solving the Copenhagen Dilemma

By proclaiming an entirely new ‘non-regression’ principle in EU law based on the connection between Articles 49 TEU (EU Enlargement) and 2 TEU (EU values, referred to from Art. 49), the Court of Justice achieved huge progress in addressing a well-known lacuna undermining the EU legal order. The ‘non-regression’ principle is a new important direction in the notable fight for the EU rule of law started with the discovery of EU competence in, in particular, the area of judicial independence and the organization of the judiciaries in the EU Member States. Continue reading >>
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How the EU is Becoming a Rule-of-Law-less Union of States

The most recent attempt by Poland's executive to undermine the very foundations of the Union legal order speaks volumes about how far the politics of resentment have come since 2015. With the Constitutional Tribunal about to hand the government its desired excuse to ignore interim measures of the Court of Justice of the European Union, a point of no return might have been reached. This new phase sees the dismantling of the rule of law on the domestic front being reinforced, aided and abetted now by the legitimizing inaction and/or spineless bargaining at … the supranational level. The EU through its institutions is playing the game according to the rules dictated by the smart autocrats. Continue reading >>
27 April 2021

Ireland cannot do it alone

Due diligence obligations for online platforms are probably the most relevant aspect of the European Commission’s proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA). However, the DSA's proposed oversight structure is based on the country of origin approach, which has proven difficult in the past. An alternative oversight model which would allow for all Member States, especially the ones who are willing and capable to spend resources to contribute to the oversight over very large platforms, is preferable. Continue reading >>
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A Relieving Decision

With its interim decision of 15 April 2021, the German Federal Constitutional Court has paved the way for ratification of the 2020 Own Resources Decision by the German side. At the same time, the Court shows that it will apply the well-known constitutional standards in the main proceedings, possibly – this is only a guess – concentrated on the ultra vires review, which allows the all-important dialogue with the ECJ to continue in the framework of a preliminary ruling procedure. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19 and the Rule of Law in Croatia: Majoritarian or Constitutional Democracy?

The Croatian government has, much like any other, struggled to find an adequate response to the pandemic of COVID-19. “Dancing with the virus” for the last year entailed introducing, relaxing and re-introducing more or less stringent measures limiting constitutional rights and individual liberties based on epidemiologic developments and political priorities of the day, or season. The measures have ranged from almost a full lockdown in early 2020 when our numbers of infections were amongst the lowest ones in Europe, to a (far too) lenient regime during the tourist season in summer and fall 2020, when the budgetary, economic and political concerns prevailed over the need to address the serious worsening of our epidemiologic parameters. Even today, in the midst of the ‘third wave’, Croatia has quite a moderate set of measures. Continue reading >>
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Bad Tandem

With its ruling of 15 April 2021, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal willingly accepts the role of substitute lawmaker. The result is an inelegant, clumsy judgment that creates more problems than it solves. The Constitutional Court as the executor of the parliamentary majority destroys not only its reputation but also the purpose of the negative legislator. In the case of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the solution of a political problem is once again transferred to the Constitutional Court. Continue reading >>
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26 April 2021

The Philippines a Year under Lockdown

The Philippines have one of the longest lockdowns in the world in response to COVID-19. This post reviews the past year, focusing on the main legal and political issues as well as prospects in the country with the second highest total number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. Continue reading >>
25 April 2021
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A Securitarian Solange

There is sigh of relief across Europe after the BVerfG has rejected the injunction order by the plaintiffs against the Own Resources Decision. But a decision by the French Conseil d’Etat taken on the same day might be the far more important political decision. Indeed, the French Court goes further than the BVerfG by openly resisting the application of EU law. In this case, the French Government will indeed reject EU law for an extended (and potentially unlimited) period of time. Continue reading >>

Paving the Way for Equitable Access to Vaccination

The global and regional distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has become one of the biggest geopolitical issues in the fight against the pandemic. On April 7, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published its Resolution 1/2021 “COVID-19 Vaccines and Inter-American Human Rights Obligations.” As it looks back on more than one year of health crisis and its multiple effects over all spheres of life, the Resolution addresses the urgency of ensuring rapid immunization throughout the Americas. Continue reading >>
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Sanctioning the Treatment of Uighurs in China

China has been accused by various states of committing genocide against the Uighurs and other Muslim communities in recent months. Against this background, in March 2021, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada announced sanctions against the Asian hegemon. Qualifying individual targeted sanctions remains a challenge for international lawyers due to the lack of clear demarcation between sanctions framework and the country-specific restrictive measures. Nevertheless, individual sanctions remain a viable option to pressure violators but alone might not be strong enough to deliver justice to victims. Continue reading >>
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24 April 2021

The Conseil d’Etat refuses to follow the Pied Piper of Karlsruhe

The Conseil d’Etat categorically rejected the proposal that the courts of the member states, in particular their supreme (or constitutional) courts, would be entitled to review an "ultra vires" of the European institutions. The wording of the judgment is an implicit acknowledgement that there is a monopoly of the EU Court of Justice in the authentic interpretation of the Treaty - unlike the German Federal Constitutional Court in the Weiss case and the doctrine of constitutional identity and protection of national security. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19, Minorities, and Indigenous peoples: The Litmus Test of Equality

The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on minorities and indigenous peoples across the globe has been well documented. Individuals from these communities have been infected at a greater rate, are more likely to die after contracting the disease and now risk being at the back of the queue in national vaccination programmes. Our work has focussed on a number of elements of this phenomenon, including a study of the disproportionate burden of Covid-19 on the most marginalized communities worldwide, and the ways that members from these communities have been pushed into forced labour as a result of the pandemic. Continue reading >>
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23 April 2021

Eigentümliches Eigentum

Warum eine substanzielle Vermögensbesteuerung weit weniger verfassungswidrig wäre, als viele glauben Continue reading >>

Improper Property

Why substantial property taxation might be a lot less unconstitutional than many think Continue reading >>
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Greatness and Tragedy

The "Next Generation EU" project (NGEU) will lead to a fundamental change in the architecture, political structure, and “finalité” of the integration process. In its scope and depth, it is even comparable to the Maastricht reform. Against this background, should and could the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) step in to protect Germany´s "constitutional identity"? Continue reading >>
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To Trust is to Choose

Countries where state institutions are perceived as corrupt all share a similar dilemma: Why should citizens trust a candidate for public office who was selected by a state body which citizens simply don’t trust? In light of this dilemma, Ukraine came up with an innovative mechanism: Giving international experts a decisive role in selecting candidates for public office. Continue reading >>
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Lithuania’s Two COVID-19 Quarantines

The coronavirus pandemic posed an unprecedented challenge for the Lithuanian society and the decision-makers. Lithuania’s response to the disease was overseen by two different governments - a populist centre-left government in spring 2020 and a liberal-centre-right coalition formed after the 2020 October parliamentary elections. Since Lithuania’s approach to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic including its legal/constitutional framework has already been addressed, the present analysis will focus on the second quarantine as well as on some overarching issues concerning the rule of law, human rights and good governance. Continue reading >>
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22 April 2021

And Now His Watch Is Ended

When democratic institutions are captured by an authoritarian government, they not only cease to hold the government accountable, or even restrain its megalomaniacal tendencies, but can be actively used to capture other democratic institutions. This was recently the case in Poland, as the ruling "Law and Justice" party removed a particularly annoying irritant: the Polish Citizens’ Rights Ombudsman, Dr. Adam Bodnar. Continue reading >>
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21 April 2021

The Battle Over Puerto Rico’s Future

Puerto Rico’s future is on the agenda in Congress. Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a contentious hearing on two competing bills addressing Puerto Rico’s status. Why two competing bills? Why the dramatically different alternative to the one backed by Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress? Understanding the profound divide these bills embody requires understanding the constitutional controversy that has long been at the core of Puerto Rico’s status debate – and the crisis of identity that drives it. Continue reading >>

How Many Times Can the ECtHR Turn its Head

In the ruling Ahmet Hüsrev Altan v. Turkey of 13 April, the European Court of Human Rights did not find an ulterior motive in the prolonged pre-trial detention of a journalist in Turkey. The Court also refused to find “pattern and tendency” in the treatment of civil society and independent journalism in Turkey. This approach is not limited to Article 18 case law: The Court’s entire jurisprudence on Turkey lacks systematic analysis. Continue reading >>
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Repubblika: Anything new under the Maltese Sun?

By now, the rule of law and the principle of judicial independence are a continuous presence in the ECJ’s case law. Most often, these cases concerned the situation in Poland or Hungary. The case of Repubblika, for a change, concerned Malta. In Repubblika, the Court has added Article 49 TEU to the list of EU law provisions that are invoked in the fight against rule of law backsliding. Continue reading >>
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Legislative/Judicial Deference versus NGOs/Citizens Activism: Taiwan’s Successful Fight Against Covid-19

Except for a minor hospital cluster infection in late January 2021, there has been no sign of community spreading. Compared to what has been going on globally with three million death, Taiwan’s control of Covid-19 pandemic is a miraculous success, particularly given its barred access to the World Health Organization and its geographic proximity and economic close ties with China. Notably, this success has been achieved without issuance of any emergency order for lockdowns, shelter in place, business closure, or school suspension. People’s daily lives have been kept without substantial interruption. Because of this, Taiwan’s legal and regulatory responses with the Covid-19 pandemic was praised as the least restrictive in the world. Continue reading >>
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Recognising Nuances

This week, the German Parliament is beginning its debate on the cabinet draft for a national Due Diligence Act (Sorgfaltspflichtengesetz). Critics of Germany’s initiative often claim that it would run counter to the development interests of the Global South. This, however, not only ignores strong development policy arguments in favour of human rights due diligence (HRDD) regulation but also the fact that several countries in the Global South are calling for similar obligations or have already created them. In particular, Germany may learn valuable lessons from the Colombian Constitutional Court’s recent case law which has created meaningful HRDD obligations for companies as well as from a draft for a Mexican Due Diligence Act. Continue reading >>
20 April 2021

Jeopardizing Judicial Dialogue is Contrary to EU Law

On 15 April 2021, AG Pikamäe delivered his opinion in the IS case, originating from a Hungarian criminal proceeding against a Swedish national. The national judge referred three questions for preliminary reference to the CJEU, one regarding the suspect’s right to translation and two regarding the general status of judicial independence in Hungary. As a reaction, the Hungarian Prosecutor General initiated a so-called “appeal in the interests of the law” and the Hungarian Supreme Court held the reference to be unlawful. Continue reading >>
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Harvesting injustice

Seasonal migrant farmworkers have been one of the most vulnerable worker categories during the pandemic and yet essential for food security. In Germany, an ongoing proposal by the Government seeks to extend the duration of the general exemption of seasonal migrant workers from social security requirements, threatening to uphold workers’ vulnerability and further exacerbate precariousness. Continue reading >>
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COVID-19 in Ethiopia: A Year in Review

Covid-19’s arrival in Ethiopia was especially inopportune, coming as it did when the country was at a political crossroads and the federation under heavy strain as a result of unprecedented intergovernmental disputes. Covid-19 emerged just two years after the three year public protests which began soon after the 2015 elections in which the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling coalition until 2019, claimed 100% victory. The public protests led to a political division within the party resulting in the coming to power of Abiy Ahmed who re-configured the party. Continue reading >>
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Jeder schweigt für sich allein

Am 3. April ist endlich das Gesetz gegen Rechtsextremismus und Hasskriminalität in Kraft getreten. Vorfrage und Grundlage dieser rechtlichen Regelung ist die verfassungsrechtliche Abwägung, die es überhaupt erst erlaubt, eine Meinungsäußerung unter Strafe zu stellen – oder gar, noch weitergehend, eine Pflicht zu etablieren, Meinungsäußerungen an die Strafverfolgungsbehörden zu melden. In dieser Abwägung zwischen Meinungsfreiheit und würdebasiertem Persönlichkeitsrecht bildet jedoch die Gleichheit, die bei der beleidigenden Hassrede eine große Rolle spielt, eine seltsame Leerstelle. Continue reading >>
19 April 2021

Defending Plurality

Academic freedom is under attack, both in authoritarian democracies, such as Hungary and Turkey, and in liberal Western democracies, such as the United States, the UK, France and Germany. However, dominant discourses about academic freedom and free speech in the global north, lately especially in France and Germany, focus on an alleged threat to academic freedom through "political correctness" and "cancel culture", that, under scrutiny, often turn out to be exactly the opposite, namely defences of plurality and critical voices. Continue reading >>

New Zealand: Rendering Account During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Just over a year since the first outbreak in New Zealand, we cast our eye back and reflect on the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Without question, the response is a study in the wonders of modern government, given the magnitude of the threat, the different dimensions of community wellbeing at stake and different parts of government involved in the response. Public health guidance, clinical health care, economic support and stimulus, social welfare and support, border security and surveillance. The list goes on.... Continue reading >>
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17 April 2021
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Rule of Law as a Perimeter of Legitimacy for COVID-19 Responses

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an extreme strain on legal systems worldwide, as they struggled to adapt existing legislative frameworks, administrative functions, and executive decision-making to the fast-changing and complex situation of the pandemic emergency. The measures adopted worldwide, including mandates in the form of lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings, closures of educational and business institutions, have been not only among the most restrictive limitations on the rights of the majority of global population but also long lasting, with uncertain ending. Continue reading >>
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16 April 2021

No reason to be gentle

On criticism, respect and the rent cap decision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht Continue reading >>
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Kein Anlass zur Schonung

Über Kritik und Respekt und den Mietendeckelbeschluss des Bundesverfassungsgerichts Continue reading >>

The UK’s Post-Brexit ‘Constitutional Unsettlement’

The tortuous process of Brexit is complete. The UK has left the EU, and Boris Johnson and the Conservative party now enjoy a commanding majority in the House of Commons after several years of unstable minority governments. However, Brexit has opened up a number of constitutional fault-lines, which have not closed with UK departure from the EU: indeed, if anything, they have continued to widen. This has accelerated a process that had started even before the ‘Leave’ vote in the June 2016 referendum - namely the ‘unsettling’ of the once famously stable British constitutional order. Continue reading >>
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Women’s Rights in the New Kyrgyz Constitution

On April 11, 2021, Kyrgyzstan held a referendum on the adoption of 81 amendments to its Constitution, which almost amounts to an entirely new Constitution. Setting aside all the numerous procedural violations of the constitutional law, in conjunction, the separate provisions of the new Constitution risk becoming a regressive tool that could suppress the position of women in Kyrgyzstan. Continue reading >>
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The Norwegian Pandemic Response

One year into the pandemic it is necessary to take stock of what has been achieved by the measures that have been implemented, and to reflect on their costs. Phrased differently, how successful have the authorities been in their endeavors to contain and control the spread of COVID-19? And from a legal point of view, what are the constitutional and cultural legacies of a year of deploying war-like measures against the virus? In this contribution to the symposium, I revisit the Norwegian COVID-19 response. In particular, I begin to unpack the narrative of success and its impact on deliberative democratic discourse. I do this by way of taking stock of the response through the lens of three rule of law indicators, namely the application of the principle of legality, the degree of parliamentary control, and adherence to open and democratic principles of rule-making. Continue reading >>
15 April 2021
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Wieviel ist der Verfassung Transparenz im Lobbyismus wert?

„Transparenz ist sicherlich ein hoher Wert, den wir verfolgen, hat aber keinen Verfassungsrang“, behauptete der CDU-Abgeordnete Patrick Schnieder in der Ersten Beratung des Bundestags zum Lobbyregistergesetz (LobbyRG). Er konnte sich auf die Ansicht von zwei der drei hierzu angehörten Sachverständigen aus der Rechtswissenschaft stützen. Die nähere Analyse ergibt jedoch, dass sich die transparente Gestaltung von lobbyistischer Tätigkeit auf das Demokratieprinzip in Art. 20 Abs. 1, 2 GG stützen kann. Continue reading >>

When Emergency is Permanent, What Else Could be Done?

Indeed, from the very outset, Egypt’s attitude concerning the management of the pandemic crisis was the adoption of the minimum possible actions, which does not harm the state economic plan, nor change the way the system functions. From a formalist point of view, Egypt has existed in a permanent state of emergency since 2017, and as a consequence, no specific legal response was adopted by the state which might alter the regular decision-making process or power arrangements between different branches. The desire of presenting an image to the public that the situation is under control was a crucial factor in Egypt's political, legal, and economic response to the COVID-19 crisis. Continue reading >>
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14 April 2021

COVID-19, the United States and Evidence-Based Politics

COVID revealed the extent to which attacks on evidence-based politics are part and parcel of the right-wing populist challenge to constitutional democracy in the United States and elsewhere. Right-wing populism challenges constitutional commitments to rule of law and basic liberal freedoms, as such strongmen as Erdogan. Orban and Maduro seize control of courts and persecute dissidents. Populist responses to the pandemic in the United States raise equally important questions about the constitutional commitments to science that are as important to constitutional democracy as the rule of law. Continue reading >>
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13 April 2021

Political System Transformation in Hong Kong

China’s National People’s Congress and Standing Committee of the NPC decided in March 2021 to transform Hong Kong’s political system. Within a couple of months, the Hong Kong government will pass local laws to enable elections for a reconfigured Election Committee and Legislative Council to be held, respectively, in September and December 2021, ahead of the Chief Executive election in March 2022. Are the political reforms justified? In examining this question, I consider the aims of the reforms, their implications, and whether they are necessary and reasonable. Overall, I have doubts whether all the reforms are necessary and proportionate to achieving their intended aims. Continue reading >>
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The rebirth of Malaysia’s fake news law – and what the NetzDG has to do with it

On 11 March 2021, the Government of Malaysia issued the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021. It criminalizes the dissemination of fake news related to COVID-19 and is an aggravated reincarnation of the country’s repealed Anti-Fake News Act of 2018. More importantly, from a German perspective, it continues the trend of anti-fake news legislation that is mistakenly associated with the German Network Enforcement Act, which has become the involuntary godmother of several such laws around the world, lending legitimacy to the global war on fake news. Continue reading >>
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A Year in Review: COVID-19 in Israel

Israel’s response to the pandemic took place in an unstable and highly polarized political climate. This affected the decisions taken in several ways. First, throughout the crisis, it was difficult to achieve agreement within the government on required actions. In addition, decisions often reflected political rather than professional considerations, a problem that was exacerbated by the instability of the coalition. The prospect of additional elections also effected the political will to enforce restrictions, in particular in the Ultra-Orthodox sector, as Ultra-Orthodox parties are perceived by Netanyahu as necessary partners in any government coalition. Continue reading >>
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The United Kingdom on Race

The United Kingdom’s Commission on Ethnic and Racial Disparities, has recently published a report, which has been widely discredited since its launch by charities, education unions, academics and politicians. Using the UK’s progressive track record of legal provisions on racial discrimination, the report moves to obscure racism’s systemic aspects. There is a profound disconnect between the theory of the UK’s legal protections against racism and the lived reality of race in Britain, which reveals race as an important and persistent determinant of social experience.   Continue reading >>
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12 April 2021

Is Compulsory Vaccination Compulsory?

On Thursday 8 April 2021, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in Vavřička and others v. the Czech Republic. The Grand Chamber ruled strongly (16:1) in favour of the Czech government, granting the state a wide margin of appreciation in the assessment of the need for compulsory vaccination of children. In light of the COVID-related challenges, it is important that the Court took a clear stance regarding the importance of vaccination. At the same time, however, it is regrettable that the Court did not offer a stronger and more coherent reasoning justifying its value-driven decision. Continue reading >>
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Australia and the right of repatriation

A key pillar of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been its closure of international borders. Since Australia’s constitution lacks an express bill of rights, Australians stranded abroad have turned to the United Nations as a last resort. Continue reading >>

The Rule of Law in Peru: Beset by Corruption and the Pandemic

It has now been a year since the beginning of this prolonged pandemic, the state of emergency (decreed on March 15, 2020 and extended throughout this entire time), the various levels of confinement and restrictions on civil liberties such as freedom of movement and the right of assembly, and a severe economic recession. At this point, our balance sheet is in the red. This is not only because we reached an official death toll of 52,000 and some 1.5 million cases of infection by March of this year, but also because there has been a severe weakening of institutions, which would explain—in part—why Peru is one of the countries in Latin America that has been hardest hit by COVID-19. Continue reading >>
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11 April 2021
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Negationism’s ‘Day in Court’

Twice in less than a week’s time, the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Brazil per day raised above the mark of 4,000 cases. On 8 April 2021, the number of deaths reached its peak while Bolsonarism suffered two major defeats in the Federal Supreme Court. Bolsonarists lost both their claim to keep religious services during the pandemic and their attempt to block the opening of a parliamentary enquiry to hold Bolsonaro accountable for his executive underreach. Nonetheless, these defeats provided an opportunity to keep Bolsonaro’s antiestablishment and resentful rhetoric alive. Continue reading >>
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10 April 2021
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Human Rights and COVID-19: Forging Recovery After a Pandemic of Abuses?

We anticipated a year ago that the pandemic, and state responses to it, presented both threats and opportunities in relation to the full panoply of human rights—civil, political, economic, social and cultural. Our proposition was that, as Scheinin ventures, “human rights do not present a barrier to decisive action to contain the virus”. Rather, they offer a universal frame of reference in the context of COVID-19—guiding national authorities as they balance competing interests and priorities; ensuring public accountability for their actions and omissions; and rendering visible the structural injustices that have driven the contagion’s disproportionate impact on certain communities. A year on, these arguments are all the starker. Continue reading >>
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09 April 2021

Not everyone

On human rights, utopia and who gets to be a member of the European demos and who doesn't Continue reading >>
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Nicht jeder Mensch

Über Menschenrechte, Utopien und wer zum Europäischen Demos dazugehört und wer nicht