The effectiveness of human rights in a multilevel legal order under threat?

Wednesday 19 June 2024, 10 am - 6 pm
Seminar & inaugural lecture of prof. dr. Jasper Krommendijk

Human rights and the rule of law have been under threat in recent years. Academics have criticised human rights for their failure to address socio-economic inequality (e.g. Moyn) or proclaimed the ‘endtimes of human rights’ (Hopgood) and a ‘post-human rights era’ (Wuerth). Human rights courts and monitoring bodies are increasingly contested by politicians and segments of the population. This also holds true for established liberal democracies such as the Netherlands, which is usually championed as a human rights forerunner. Both the State Committee on the Parliamentary System (2018) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission (1031/2021) held that the resilience of the Dutch rule of law system needs to be strengthened also considering the so-called Dutch Childcare Allowance scandal involving serious and systemic deficiencies in individual rights protection within all branches of government. The recent parliamentary elections and unfolding coalition-building attempts further show that the rule of law and human rights cannot be taken for granted.

Recent academic studies, nonetheless, revealed that we should not fall into pessimism. Empirical works show that human rights remain relevant and a powerful weapon (e.g. De Búrca, Engle Merry, Sikkink). The more pertinent puzzle to be solved is thus not the binary question whether human rights are effective or not, but rather how they can be effective. Especially De Búrca’s seminal work on human rights experimentalism and legal mobilization for human rights shows how the traditional top-down focus on (international) treaties, institutions and courts and monitoring bodies neglects bottom-up processes including activists, advocacy groups, affected communities and social movements. In order for (international) human rights to be effective, top-down and bottom-up approaches should converge and be combined. 

During this seminar various practitioners, academics and judges will reflect on the ways in which (inter)national human rights norms and institutions have been effective and how they can continue to be.


10.00-10.30 Welcome and coffee/ tea at the Theaterzaal C 

10.30-10.45 Opening and welcome by Prof. dr. Ashley Terlouw, Professor of sociology of law and migration law & Chair of the Research Centre for State and Law (SteR)

10.45-11.15 Keynote Prof. dr. Janneke Gerards, Professor of fundamental rights law & Substitute member of the Venice Commission

11.15-11.30 Introduction to the panel debates: from top down to bottom-up and strategic litigation (Lucas Dikkers and Kris van der Pas, PhD candidates Radboud University)

11.30-12.30 Panel debate 1: The effectiveness of international human rights mechanisms

  • Prof. dr. Petra Bárd, Professor of sustainable rule of law, Radboud University 
  • Prof. dr. Yvonne Donders, Professor of international human rights, University of Amsterdam & member of the UN Human Rights Committee
  • Prof. dr. Miriam Kullman, Professor of Social Law, Utrecht University & Expert member of the European Committee of Social Rights 
  • Dr. Kushtrim Istrefi, Assistant Professor of Human Rights Law and Public International Law, Utrecht University & Expert member of the Venice Commission
  • Chairs: Dr. Lize Glas, Associate professor of international and European law & Emilia Klebanowksi, PhD candidate, Radboud University

12.30-13.30  Lunch

13.30-14.30 Panel debate 2: The effectiveness of human rights in the Netherlands

  • Dr. Ineke Boerefijn,Coordinating Policy Advisor Netherlands Institute for Human Rights 
  • Merel Hendrickx, Human Rights Lawyer at Stichting PILP
  • Hanneke Palm,  Deputy Secretary of the Staatscommissie rechtsstaat (previously Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the Council of Europe & Legal adviser human rights law Ministry of Justice)
  • Dr. Floris Tan, Legal officer, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Prof. dr. Marc de Werd, Professor of court administration, University of Amsterdam & Senior justice at the Amsterdam court of appeal  & member of the Consultative Council of European Judges of the Council of Europe
  • Chairs: Dr. Annick Pijnenburg, Assistant professor of international and European law & Sandra Arntz, PhD candidate, Radboud University

14.30-15.00 Keynote Prof. dr. John Morijn, Professor of law and politics in international relations, University of Groningen & Chair of the Scientific Committee of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency

15.00-15.05 Closing of the seminar

15.05-15.15 Walk to the Aula                           

15.45-16.30 Inaugural lecture Prof. dr. Jasper Krommendijk, Professor of human rights law & Jean Monnet Chair on the rule of law in the national and EU legal orders (EURoLNAT), Radboud University.

16.30-18.00 Reception & drinks        

Wednesday 19 June 2024, 10 am - 6 pm
, Theaterzaal C, Aula
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