Giegerich: Struggling for Europe’s Soul

Last week, issue 3/2022 of the Zeitschrift für Europarechtliche Studien (ZEuS) came out. It includes Professor Giegerich’s article “Struggling for Europe’s Soul: The Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights Counter Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine” (p. 519 – 557). 

This is the Abstract: “Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe with immediate effect and also from the ECHR with a six-month delay. The expulsion was based on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine which actually began in 2014 and only intensified in 2022. It was inevitable in view of the fact that Russia had not only distanced itself from the values of the CoE and the ECHR, but started to actively undermine them. This becomes evident from an overview of the pertinent case law of the European Court of Human Rights and Russia’s increasingly assertive unwillingness to comply with the Court’s decisions. While the pertinent resolutions by the Committee of Ministers and the ECtHR were made in accordance with the CoE Statute and the ECHR both procedurally and substantively, they should have been better explained to the European and world public. Russia has meanwhile begun to boycott the ECtHR procedures in violation of Art. 58 ECHR.”

Thomas Giegerich concludes his article with the following observations (footnotes omitted): “The attempt by the signatories of the Charter of Paris to build a united Europe, together with a transforming Russia, on the basis of human rights, democracy and the rule of law has unfortunately failed, because Russia left the common ground of values. Instead it returned to 19th century imperialist policies of power, violence and territorial conquest that were outlawed first by the Briand-Kellogg Pact and then for good by the UN Charter. We must not let it and its brothers in spirit succeed in distorting the international legal order of human dignity and self-determination built around the UN Charter and the CoE Statute into “authoritarian international law” or outright legal nihilism. Yet, while facing the unpleasant truths of today we should not stop in our efforts to promote transformation in both Russia and Belarus so that we can tomorrow resume construction work on our common European house, firmly founded on the ideals of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the CoE Statute as well as the ECHR and Protocols. The dream of 1990 lives on and its time will come.”