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Article

Access_open A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation under International Human Rights Law

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Dehumanisation, International Human Rights Law, Positive State obligations, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
Authors Stephanie Eleanor Berry
AbstractAuthor's information

    International human rights law (IHRL) was established in the aftermath of the Second World War to prevent a reoccurrence of the atrocities committed in the name of fascism. Central to this aim was the recognition that out-groups are particularly vulnerable to rights violations committed by the in-group. Yet, it is increasingly apparent that out-groups are still subject to a wide range of rights violations, including those associated with mass atrocities. These rights violations are facilitated by the dehumanisation of the out-group by the in-group. Consequently, this article argues that the creation of IHRL treaties and corresponding monitoring mechanisms should be viewed as the first step towards protecting out-groups from human rights violations. By adopting the lens of dehumanisation, this article demonstrates that if IHRL is to achieve its purpose, IHRL monitoring mechanisms must recognise the connection between dehumanisation and rights violations and develop a positive State obligation to counter dehumanisation. The four treaties explored in this article, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, all establish positive State obligations to prevent hate speech and to foster tolerant societies. These obligations should, in theory, allow IHRL monitoring mechanisms to address dehumanisation. However, their interpretation of the positive State obligation to foster tolerant societies does not go far enough to counter unconscious dehumanisation and requires more detailed elaboration.


Stephanie Eleanor Berry
Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law, University of Sussex.
Article

Access_open The Potential of Positive Obligations Against Romaphobic Attitudes and in the Development of ‘Roma Pride’

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Roma, Travellers, positive obligations, segregation, culturally adequate accommodation
Authors Lilla Farkas and Theodoros Alexandridis
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article analyses the jurisprudence of international tribunals on the education and housing of Roma and Travellers to understand whether positive obligations can change the hearts and minds of the majority and promote minority identities. Case law on education deals with integration rather than cultural specificities, while in the context of housing it accommodates minority needs. Positive obligations have achieved a higher level of compliance in the latter context by requiring majorities to tolerate the minority way of life in overwhelmingly segregated settings. Conversely, little seems to have changed in education, where legal and institutional reform, as well as a shift in both majority and minority attitudes, would be necessary to dismantle social distance and generate mutual trust. The interlocking factors of accessibility, judicial activism, European politics, expectations of political allegiance and community resources explain jurisprudential developments. The weak justiciability of minority rights, the lack of resources internal to the community and dual identities among the Eastern Roma impede legal claims for culture-specific accommodation in education. Conversely, the protection of minority identity and community ties is of paramount importance in the housing context, subsumed under the right to private and family life.


Lilla Farkas
Lilla Farkas is a practising lawyer in Hungary and recently earned a PhD from the European University Institute entitled ‘Mobilising for racial equality in Europe: Roma rights and transnational justice’. She is the race ground coordinator of the European Union’s Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-discrimination.

Theodoros Alexandridis
Theodoros Alexandridis is a practicing lawyer in Greece.

    The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) pushed state obligations to counter prejudice and stereotypes concerning people with disabilities to the forefront of international human rights law. The CRPD is underpinned by a model of inclusive equality, which views disability as a social construct that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and barriers, including attitudinal barriers, that hinder their participation in society. The recognition dimension of inclusive equality, together with the CRPD’s provisions on awareness raising, mandates that states parties target prejudice and stereotypes about the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities to society. Certain human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, to a much lesser extent, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, require states to eradicate harmful stereotypes and prejudice about people with disabilities in various forms of interpersonal relationships. This trend is also reflected, to a certain extent, in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the extent to which the aforementioned human rights bodies have elaborated positive obligations requiring states to endeavour to change ‘hearts and minds’ about the inherent capabilities and contributions of people with disabilities. It analyses whether these bodies have struck the right balance in elaborating positive obligations to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes in interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, it highlights the convergences or divergences that are evident in the bodies’ approaches to those obligations.


Andrea Broderick
Andrea Broderick is Assistant Professor at the Universiteit Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Privatising Law Enforcement in Social Networks: A Comparative Model Analysis

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2018
Keywords user generated content, public and private responsibilities, intermediary liability, hate speech and fake news, protection of fundamental rights
Authors Katharina Kaesling
AbstractAuthor's information

    These days, it appears to be common ground that what is illegal and punishable offline must also be treated as such in online formats. However, the enforcement of laws in the field of hate speech and fake news in social networks faces a number of challenges. Public policy makers increasingly rely on the regu-lation of user generated online content through private entities, i.e. through social networks as intermediaries. With this privat-ization of law enforcement, state actors hand the delicate bal-ancing of (fundamental) rights concerned off to private entities. Different strategies complementing traditional law enforcement mechanisms in Europe will be juxtaposed and analysed with particular regard to their respective incentive structures and consequential dangers for the exercise of fundamental rights. Propositions for a recommendable model honouring both pri-vate and public responsibilities will be presented.


Katharina Kaesling
Katharina Kaesling, LL.M. Eur., is research coordinator at the Center for Advanced Study ‘Law as Culture’, University of Bonn.

    The judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v. Suriname is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Particularly important is the Court’s repeated citation and incorporation of various provisions of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into its interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights. This aids in greater understanding of the normative value of the Declaration’s provisions, particularly when coupled with the dramatic increase in affirmations of that instrument by UN treaty bodies, Special Procedures and others. The Court’s analysis also adds detail and further content to the bare architecture of the Declaration’s general principles and further contributes to the crystallisation of the discrete, although still evolving, body of law upholding indigenous peoples’ rights. Uptake of the Court’s jurisprudence by domestic tribunals further contributes to this state of dynamic interplay between sources and different fields of law.


Fergus MacKay JD
Article

Access_open Religious Freedom of Members of Old and New Minorities: A Double Comparison

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2017
Keywords ECtHR, UNHRC, religious manifestations, religious minorities, empirical analysis
Authors Fabienne Bretscher
AbstractAuthor's information

    Confronted with cases of restrictions of the right to manifest religious beliefs of new religious minorities formed by recent migration movements, the ECtHR and the UNHRC seem to opt for different interpretations and applications of this right, as recent conflicting decisions show. Based on an empirical legal analysis of the two bodies’ decisions on individual complaints, this article finds that these conflicting decisions are part of a broader divergence: While the UNHRC functions as a protector of new minorities against States’ undue interference in their right to manifest their religion, the ECtHR leaves it up to States how to deal with religious diversity brought by new minorities. In addition, a quantitative analysis of the relevant case law showed that the ECtHR is much less likely to find a violation of the right to freedom of religion in cases brought by new religious minorities as opposed to old religious minorities. Although this could be a hint towards double standards, a closer look at the examined case law reveals that the numerical differences can be explained by the ECtHR’s weaker protection of religious manifestations in the public as opposed to the private sphere. Yet, this rule has an important exception: Conscientious objection to military service. By examining the development of the relevant case law, this article shows that this exception bases on a recent alteration of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and that there are similar prospects for change regarding other religious manifestations in the public sphere.


Fabienne Bretscher
PhD candidate at the University of Zurich.

Lilla Farkas
Lilla Farkas is a member of the Budapest Bar Association, holds an LLM from King's College, London and is a PhD candidate at Lóránd Eötvös University's Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary. She is collaborating with the Budapest-based Chance for Children Foundation and the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group. She serves as president of the Hungarian Equal Treatment Authority's Advisory Board and as a race (Roma) ground coordinator for the European Network of Independent Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field.
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