Modelling the State – Religion Relations in the former Soviet Muslim-majority States: constitutional secularity and increasing religiosity in the context of democratic state building in Azerbaijan

What is the most suitable constitutional strategy that would create a sustainable relationship between the state and religion, which would successfully dwindle the process of conscious compartmentalization, eventually strengthening liberal legitimacy in the former-Soviet Muslim-majority states? In response, I preliminarily submit that building country-specific models for the state – religion relations should be considered as one of the crucial components of the democratic state-building processes in the former Soviet Muslim-majority states. In this respect, Azerbaijan, the most secular Muslim republic, may serve as a crucial case study for these purposes. Hence, this paper, (1) aims to analyze the factors affecting the changing dynamics of the state – religion relations and (2) to examine the constitutional model of the state – religion relations in Azerbaijan, which are often claimed to be responsive for managing religious diversity in the most secular, but Muslim-majority society.

Comparative Law in the Practice of the European Court of Human Rights – Beyond the European Consensus

Besides being an international court, the European Court of Human Rights is commonly regarded as the constitutional court for Europe. It has applied the comparative method in its ‘European consensus’ analysis for a long time. This paper focuses on the practice of the Court citing foreign law: national legal documents from non-European jurisdictions. After giving a theoretical background, the central part of the paper presents the results of empirical research based on a double methodology: analysis of the case law from the last 20 years and expert interviews with former and current judges and law clerks of the Court. The paper aims to find patterns in the practice to understand the background, aims, and influencing factors of the use of comparative data. With these data, it is possible to determine whether the generally raised criticisms, namely cherry-picking and cultural bias, are present and whether they could be remedied using a carefully drafted methodology.

Civil society and the experimentalist turn in the European Convention of Human Rights

Over the past twenty years, civil society mobilization in the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has significantly grown. Civil society actors have engaged in increasing numbers in litigation before the ECtHR, and in the past decade, their involvement has also extended to the phase of judgment implementation. Drawing on a large case law data set of ECtHR judgments, this paper examines how the ECHR regime interacts with states and non-governmental actors to influence domestic human rights change in the area of immigration and asylum. It argues that repeat and strategic litigation, shifting methods of ECHR supervision and state implementation to remedy systemic violations, and above all the growing engagement of civil society and non-governmental actors, have prompted a distinctive trend of human rights experimentalism. The analysis has profound implications for the legitimacy, effectiveness and further reform of the ECHR system.

Risk, human rights and Covid-19

The management of the worldwide Covid-19 health crisis has undergone significant variations – from herd immunity in the UK to “zero Covid” policy in China – depending on the level of attention paid to the preservation of individual freedoms, but also on the various tendencies of the states to protect their population from the risk of death or to leave individuals the responsibility for their health. This paper aims to shed light on the management of health risks from the perspective of human rights. Firstly, the notion of risk as understood by economic and social sciences will be introduced and applied to the Covid-19 pandemic. Secondly, the focus will be put on the notion of risk as it used in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, the implications of this risk case law on the obligations of states in the context of pandemic management will be discussed, with the aim of assessing the scope of the right to life vis-à-vis other fundamental rights in this context.

Success or failure of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. Reflections based on empirical research

Among the global socio-economic problems challenging public law is the eradication of extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is strictly associated with human rights violations, as evidenced by the testimonies of people experiencing it. In 2012, the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights were adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. This soft law instrument was designed to be a useful tool for states in the formulation and implementation of poverty reduction policies in the spirit of a human rights based approach. It is now ten years since the Guiding Principles were adopted. I will present the findings of my empirical research, conducted with the participation of representatives of various countries and NGOs, where I try to determine whether the objective behind the Guiding Principles has been met. In this presentation I will also try to answer the question of whether a new legally binding instrument for the protection of people experiencing extreme poverty is needed.