ELIAMEP in cooperation with Kingston University and the University of Siena organised an international workshop on The European Court of Human Rights, protection of civil rights and minorities: state compliance and domestic reform. The workshop was funded by the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, Jean Monnet Action.

Theme and main objectives of the Workshop

The past twenty years have witnessed a phenomenal increase of the case load of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), indicating a remarkable growth in the judicial authority of what is widely recognized to be the most effective, supranational and legally-binding human rights mechanism in Europe. Despite its widely recognized success and an abundance of legal literature on its workings and interpretations, there has been scant attention paid and research done on the actual domestic effects of the Strasbourg Court decisions, both in policy reform as well as structural change. There is a limited understanding of the ways in which their normative content may diffuse and affect national laws, institutions and administrative practices. The aim of this workshop is to begin to explore whether and how the Court’s judgments reverberate domestically (or fail to do so) in policies, structures and institutions, with a specific focus on religion-state relations, ethnic, religious or national minorities and immigrants.

The workshop is particularly interested in the Court’s growing jurisprudence that pertains to the public participation of individuals and minorities in a democracy. Such case law has largely developed through cases in which individual applicants claim a breaching of their rights to family life, religious freedom and conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and non-discrimination, under the European Convention of Human Rights. Individuals who express views and engage in actions that place them in a minority position often invoke these in front of the Court to challenge national laws and practices. While they inhere in individuals, these rights have also in a number of cases been invoked by individuals on behalf of ethnic, religious, cultural or other communities, as well as immigrants.

Schedule and Attendance

In addressing the above themes, the nature of this workshop is to be exploratory and in this sense it has the form of a work in progress. Participants are required to submit to the organizers in advance their presentations in writing, or the papers on which they are based, so that they can be circulated to all who will attend. Besides the participants who will make short presentations and facilitate discussions, it is anticipated that the workshop will also be attended by a small number of practitioners as well as individuals with professional or academic expertise on the topic. The focus will be on discussion. In order to provide for a continued discussion, participants are requested to attend all sessions. The times allotted for each session may vary, depending on length of discussion.

Preliminary Programme

Friday, 2 June 2006 Arrival of participants

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Introductory remarks, Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP, Athens

Keynote speech: Christos Rozakis, European Court of Human Rights
The protection of minorities in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHtR)

10:45-11:00 Coffee break

Session I: Taking recourse in Strasbourg: interest groups and minorities
– Konstantinos Tsitselikis, Dept. of Balkan and Slavic Studies, University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki
Minority mobilization in Greece and litigation in Strasbourg
– Nuala Mole, AIRE Centre, Litigating on behalf  of minorities before the ECtHR – a practitioner’s perspective
– Giannis Ktistakis, Democriteion University of Thrace, Discussant

12:30-14:00      Lunch

Session II: Implementation of Court decisions: institutions and actors
– Nikos Sitaropoulos, Council of Europe, Executing ECtHR’s judgments relating to minority rights – Aspects of the Committee of Ministers’ supervisory role
– Astrid Steinkellner, Boltzman Institute for Human Rights, Vienna, Implementation of ECtHR decisions in Austria: domestic actors and procedures
– Eleni Micha, Faculty of Law, University of Athens, State of the art in the Greek legal order and Greek jurisprudence.
– Discussant: Yorgos Gerapetritis, Faculty of Law, University of Athens

16:00-16:15 Coffee break

Session III: Human rights norms and political reform: Do Strasbourg decisions make a difference?
Nicholas Hatzis, City University, London, Religious freedom in Greece: Strasbourg case-law and national attitudes
Dogu Ergil, Dept. of Political Science, Ankara University
The Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and Their Impact on Minorities in Turkey
Yonko Grozev, Centre for Liberal Studies, Sofia
Religious freedom and ethnic minorities in Bulgaria
Discussant, Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP

18:15-18:30 Closing remarks
20:00  Dinner

Sunday, 4 June 2006 Departure of participants