Human Rights in economic crisis: Call for Papers

Special Issue of the Cyprus Human Rights Law Review:
Recourse to the European Human Rights Law framework in response to the economic crisis

The economic crisis has tested much more than the financial balances of banks, governments and individuals either in their capacity as savers, share-holders, pensioners, employers or employees. It brought about a series of social and political changes posing a real test for human rights, solidarity and democracy. It has exposed the most vulnerable to additional hardship and has given ample opportunity for various forms of extremism to flourish often resulting in the victimization of scapegoats. It undermines not only the guarantees of economic, social and cultural rights, but also those of civil and political rights. As history has taught us, noted Francoise Tulkens in her speech marking the opening of the current judicial year for the European Court of Human Rights, these trends pose a real threat to the twin pillars on which the Convention is based: democracy and the rule of law.

The impact of the crisis on obligations arising from the European Convention of Human Rights (‘ECHR’) and the European Social Charter is multi-faceted and extends to much more than the effects of the austerity measures experienced in a number of Council of Europe (‘CoE’) Member States such as unprecedented cuts on salaries and pensions and the decreasing availability of social benefits. Member States -particularly those most struck by the crisis like Greece, Cyprus, and Italy- face serious challenges in complying with the ECHR and European Social Charter, for instance in ensuring that no one depending on a social assistance scheme is left in conditions of extreme poverty; providing where required adequate housing and ensuring that any evictions,including of home owners defaulting on their mortgages, remain lawful; respecting the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers in an increasingly hostile environment as a result of the rise of political extremism; ensuring that any dismissals remain fair and that all necessary procedural safeguards remain effective; guaranteeing an effective right of access to justice in the face of new challenges varying from cuts on legal aid budgets and extending to jurisdictional issues arising in claims against the implementation of agreements with the “Troika”. The crisis has also intensified tensions arising from decision-making in what is nowadays often perceived as the Ivory Tower of Brussels and amplified a certain lack of understanding experienced by northern Europeans towards southern Europeans and vice versa. In this climate, it seems that support for European integration can no longer be taken for granted. In this context, the Editorial board of the Cyprus Human Right Law Review decided to resort to the framework of European Human Rights Law for assistance and devote the Review’s forthcoming issue to the economic crisis.

The present Call for Papers seeks to

(a) Solicit expert opinions on the impact of the economic crisis on the human rights obligations of CoE Member States, particularly addressing the issues highlighted above;
(b) Explore specific applications of the European human rights law framework in litigation arising as a result of the economic crisis;
(c) Explore means of managing the increase of political extremism challenging respect to human rights.

Interested authors are invited to submit an abstract of their proposed paper by 11 October 2013 to info@ehrli.org. The abstracts should be no more than three pages long and be in English. Earlier submissions are welcome. The abstracts will be reviewed by members of the Cyprus Human Rights Law Review’s Editorial and Scientific board and a number of authors will be invited to submit their final papers of no more than 15,000 words by 30 November 2013. Please note that already published papers will not be eligible for consideration.

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