Blog moved: update your RSS feeds and bookmarks!

The free blog hosting service is becoming increasingly limiting. The last straw was the addition of “sponsored posts”, which cannot be disabled.

In order to have complete control over my blog, I have therefore decided to self-host it. I have migrated all e-mail subscribers, but those following this blog using other means must update to the new URL:


Some progress during the 7th meeting of the 47+1 group

A couple of months ago, the negotiations on the EU’s accession to the ECHR resumed, with what was termed the sixth meeting of the 47+1 group – the ad hoc negotiation group involving all 47 Council of Europe and the EU. From 24–26 November, the 47+1 group held their 7th meeting, and the last of 2020. Some progress was made, but from reading the report it is becoming increasingly clear that no immediate breakthroughs are in sight.

In this post I will, using publicly available sources (primarily the meeting report), briefly summarize and take stock of the progress made. I begin by listing the issues that were not dealt with at all during the 7th meeting, and then turn to the issues there were the subject of negotiations at the 7th meeting. Finally, I will say a couple of words about other business at the 7th meeting, notably the exchange of views with representatives of civil society.

Continue reading “Some progress during the 7th meeting of the 47+1 group”

The negotiations on the EU’s accession to the ECHR have resumed

From 29 September to 1 October 2020 the so-called 47+1 Group, which consists of representatives of all Council of Europe Member States and the European Union, held their first formal negotiation meeting on the EU’s accession to the ECHR since the 2013 Draft Accession Agreement (DAA) was rejected by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Opinion 2/13. When it was handed down back in December 2014, I characterized Opinion 2/13 as a “direct and unequivocal attack on the accession agreement” by the CJEU. In the same post, I also predicted that it would be “very difficult to satisfy the CJEU’s objections by way of amending the accession [instruments]”.

The fact that it has taken almost six years for the negotiations to properly restart is a testament to these difficulties. At the same time, the resumption of the accession negotiations signals that the parties indeed believe that it is possible to satisfy or circumvent the CJEU’s objections in Opinion 2/13 – or, perhaps, that some of the objections no longer hold water.

The meeting report from the first renegotiation meeting – or the sixth negotiating meeting in CoE parlance, continuing the numbering from the previous round – has just been made available on the CoE website for the accession negotiations. Another key document is the “Paper by the Chair to steer the discussion at the 6th meeting of the CDDH ad hoc group (47+1)“, which was drafted to structure the negotiations. Finally, the EU Commission’s negotiating mandate – a heavily guarded document in the first round of negotiations – was leaked almost simultaneously with its approval in October 2019.

In this blog post, I analyze the meeting report, in light of the Chair’s paper, and take stock of the progress made so far.

A glimpse of the 6th 47+1 negotiation meeting
(Photo credit: Council of Europe)
Continue reading “The negotiations on the EU’s accession to the ECHR have resumed”

Human Rights Accountability of CSDP Missions on Migration

(Originally published on the EU Migration and Asylum Law and Policy blog.)

Interested in the accountability of IOs? Read my book!
Interested in the accountability
of IOs? Read my book!

Respect for human rights and the rule of law are among the European Union’s foundational values proclaimed in TEU article 2. The Lisbon treaty’s merging of the EU’s three pillars, together with the elevation of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights to the level of primary law, ensured a sufficient level of substantive human rights protection across all the Union’s activities. However, the right to an effective remedy – enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter , as well as in regional and global human rights treaties – requires available and effective procedural mechanisms for holding human rights violators to account. When it comes to the availability and functioning of such mechanisms, which I will refer to as accountability mechanisms, there is less uniformity and significant gaps.

These gaps are increasingly becoming visible in the area of immigration and asylum, where the powers of the Union and its agencies have been rapidly expanding over the last few years, in response to the so-called “migration crisis” of 2015. In a post on this blog written back in April, Melanie Fink highlighted the lack of access to human rights accountability mechanisms in relation to Frontex.

The EU response also included the establishment of a military Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSDP) mission, Operation Sophia, to combat human smuggling and trafficking. At the outset, Operation Sophia consisted of one aircraft carrier, supported by six ships and two submarines, and additional units were deployed in subsequent phases. With a mandate that allowed for the “boarding, search, seizure and diversion” of vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling and trafficking, not much imagination is needed to see that there are risks of human rights violations.

Union responsibility for CSDP missions

CSDP missions form part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). While the Lisbon Treaty merged the former three pillars into one Union, the CFSP remains a markedly intergovernmental part of an increasingly supranational Union. Still, acts under the CFSP heading remain Union acts. Horizontal rules of EU law – such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights – therefore also apply to the CFSP, and thus to CSDP missions. Since the Union does not have its own military forces, CSDP missions are made up by contingents of units provided by the Member States. These units are put under the joint command of an Operations Commander. Up the chain of command from the Operations Commander, we find first the Council’s Political and Security Committee, and at the very top the Council itself.

From a legal perspective there are two key challenges for establishing that the Union is responsible, as a matter of substantive law, for human rights violations by CSDP missions:

  • First, whether the conduct that is alleged to represent a human rights violation is attributable to the Union.
  • Second, whether the conduct attributable to the Union constitutes a violation of a provision of its human rights law obligations.

The issue of attribution is particularly problematic with regard to CSDP missions, such as NAVFOR Operation Sophia. While the Operations Commander of the mission exercises what is in military parlance known as “operational command and control”, the Member States retain a certain degree of control over their troops. At the very least they retain the right to withdraw them at any time, as well as disciplinary jurisdiction. But contributing Member States often insist on, and are granted, even further “caveats” – for example the right to refuse to carry out individual orders from the Operations Commander. Untangling exactly which actor is responsible for a particular act or omission – the Union or/and (one or more) of its Member States – can therefore be very difficult. Yet, there are situations where the conduct of participating military contingents could be attributable to the Union, and the Union will also often share responsibility with (one or more) of its Member States through its complicity.

The second issue, establishing whether a course of conduct attributable to the Union constitutes a violation of its human rights obligations, is comparatively easier. The Charter of Fundamental Rights contains a modern catalog of human rights provisions that are also applicable to the conduct of CSDP missions. In contrast to most other international organizations, the Union in other words offers a high level of human rights protection as a matter of substantive law.

Accountability mechanisms

The question then is whether the high level of substantive human rights protection is matched by sufficient accountability mechanisms. It is particularly when answering this question that we see how the CFSP – and thus CSDP missions – is “subject to specific rules and procedures” (TEU article 24, emphasis added).

Since the object is the accountability of the Union as such – and not that of its Member States – the first obvious potential mechanism is the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). However, while the CJEU’s now has a general jurisdiction to “ensure […] that the law is observed”, it follows from TFEU article 275 that it “shall not have jurisdiction with respect to the provisions relating to the common foreign and security policy nor with respect to acts adopted on the basis of those provisions”. There are some exceptions to this CFSP carve-out, notably that the Court is competent to monitor compliance with TEU article 40 and to review “restrictive measures against natural or legal persons”. But none of these exceptions  are applicable to CSDP missions. Indeed, the operational conduct of CSDP missions is at the very core of the CFSP. If the carve-out provision is to have any meaning, the CJEU must therefore lack jurisdiction over such operational conduct. Individual victims consequently lack access to the CJEU.

A second potential accountability mechanism at the Union level is the European Ombudsman. Its jurisdiction ratione materiae in principle covers the entirety of the Union’s activities – including those of CSDP missions. Its jurisdiction ratione personae also seems broad, as it extends to complaints from all EU citizens and residents. However, note that this in practice excludes all those who are likely to be victims of human rights violations by CSDP missions: non-EU citizens that do not have their residence in the EU. This is particularly true in cases where CSDP missions are used to enforce migration policy, as was the case with Operation Sophia.

Interestingly, though, the lack of jurisdiction ratione personae does not render the Ombudsman completely ineffective. That is because in addition to receiving complaints, the Ombudsman can also open own-initiative inquiries. The Ombudsman has used this tool to circumvent the restrictions on its complaints-based jurisdiction. In cases where it has been considered appropriate, the Ombudsman has formally dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction ratione personae and then immediately opened an own-initiative inquiry into the same facts. The European Ombudsman thus functions, indirectly and informally, as an accountability mechanism for CSDP missions.

Access is not alone enough to render the Ombudsman a sufficient accountability mechanism, though. Even when it acts as an accountability mechanism, the aggrieved individuals are not given party status, since the procedure is formally that of an own-initiative inquiry. Moreover, the findings of the Ombudsman are not binding. Although the Ombudsman as had a strong track-record in getting Union bodies and agencies to comply – even in CFSP matters – an unbinding decision is not fully compliant with the right to an effective remedy.

A third option for aggrieved individuals seeking to hold the Union to account is to sue it in domestic courts. While domestic lawsuits against international organisations are usually a hopeless endeavor due to the jurisdictional immunity, that is not the case when it comes to Union-led CSDP missions. That is because TFEU article 274 provides that, for cases falling outside the scope of the CJEU’s jurisdiction, “disputes to which the Union is a party shall not […] be excluded from the jurisdiction of the courts or tribunals of the Member States”. As mentioned above, the CJEU lacks jurisdiction in cases where CSDP missions are alleged to have caused human rights violations. However, even if the Union does not have jurisdictional immunity in these cases, further obstacles in practice render domestic courts ineffective as accountability mechanisms. As the pre-Brexit judgment by the UK High Court of Justice in the case of Tomanović et al. v. the European Union et al.  illustrates, domestic courts tend to be weary of deciding cases involving international organisations. Moreover, even if all procedural hurdles are surmounted, the outcomes of domestic proceedings are only binding as a matter of domestic law in one Member State, and they are in practice unenforceable since the Union has immunity against the enforcement of judgments against it. With the Union thus in principle being free to ignore their judgments, recourse to the domestic courts of EU Member States cannot be regarded as a sufficiently effective accountability mechanism.

In addition to these general accountability mechanisms, some CSDP missions have established mission-specific accountability mechanisms. For those missions that have Status of Forces Agreements (meaning agreements with third states on the status of the mission, jurisdiction, immunities, etc.), an ad hoc claims procedure is usually established by the agreement. The procedure typically consists of negotiations, followed by assessment by a claims commission composed of representatives of the mission and the host state, and finally, if there is still no agreement, arbitration proceedings. However, various procedural limitations render them ineffective as human rights accountability mechanisms. Moreover, some missions, such as Operation Sophia, operate without any Status of Forces Agreements.

Another, and exceptional, example is the Human Rights Review Panel established to hold EULEX Kosovo to account. This is, to my knowledge, the only intentionally established human rights accountability mechanism with jurisdiction over a CSDP mission. While there is much good to say about the Human Rights Review Panel and its case-law, its main weakness is that it lacks the power to issue legally binding decisions. Thus, even the Human Rights Review Panel fails to fulfill all the requirements flowing from the right to an  effective remedy.

As this brief survey reveals, the human rights accountability of CSDP missions is lacking. The right to an effective remedy is not respected. Potential accountability mechanisms are either unavailable or offer insufficient outcomes.

Potential solutions

Reform of the accountability mechanisms applicable to CSDP missions is therefore needed. Such reform should happen by establishing mechanisms at the Union (or international) level because domestic courts are unable to provide an effective remedy, for the reasons explained above.

A potential first step towards reform could be to replicate EULEX Kosovo’s Human Rights Review Panel in other CSDP missions. While this will not by itself ensure sufficient human rights accountability, it is a step that can be taken easily, without e.g. amending the constituent treaties of the Union. Potential further steps could include expanding the jurisdiction of the CJEU, and the accession of the Union to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Finally, one has to highlight the potential that lies in the existing accountability mechanisms. Very few have taken advantage of the European Ombudsman’s extensive jurisdiction, and there is only one known example of a domestic court case against the Union involving the conduct of a CSDP mission, namely the above-mentioned case of Tomanovic v. The European Union. While these accountability mechanisms are by no means perfect, they do appear to be under-utilised. Hopefully, both this post and my book will make lawyers more aware of them and their potential.

New book: “The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations”

Book cover.

This summer I published a book, The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations, which based on my PhD thesis with Cambridge University Press.

The book is available through the Cambridge University Press store, in both hardback and eBook formats. It is also available to institutional subscribers via Cambridge Core.

A few days ago I also posted a summary of the book at the Cambridge University Press blog fifteeneightyfour, which is reproduced below:

Are international organizations accountable towards individuals when they violate human rights?

International organizations are becoming increasingly powerful. In recent decades states have steadily been conferring powers upon international organizations in order to solve transnational problems and to provide global public goods. As a corollary of their increasing powers, international organizations affect the lives of individuals across the globe – directly and indirectly – through their decisions and conduct. Consequently, they are also more capable of violating the human rights of individuals.

Legal scholars have reacted to these developments by studying whether and to what extent international organizations are responsible for human rights violations. The studies published so far have generally found that international organizations do have human rights obligations, that they sometimes do act in contravention of such obligations, and that when they do, international organizations are responsible as a matter of substantive international law towards individuals.

But accountability is more than responsibility. A power-wielder is accountable when there are procedural mechanisms available to hold it to account. My book, entitled The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations, takes the debate on the accountability of international organizations one step further by analyzing and assessing the accountability mechanisms of international organizations. The book offers three main contributions:

  • A general framework for identifying, analyzing, and assessing the accountability mechanisms of international organizations.
  • Three case studies of the accountability mechanisms applicable in situations where international organizations wield significant power vis-à-vis individuals.
  • A sketch of the way towards reform that will ensure accountability.

The first contribution – a general framework for identifying, analyzing, and assessing the accountability of international organizations – is perhaps the most interesting for researchers. In the book, I develop a definition of international organization accountability mechanisms, as well as a detailed taxonomy of them.

I also propose a normative framework for assessing the sufficiency of such accountability mechanisms. This framework is built upon legal theory on the right to remedy, and both legal theory and social psychology research on procedural justice. On the basis of these theoretical approaches, I establish a concrete set of normative yardsticks against which to assess the accountability mechanisms of international organizations. These yardsticks are bundled in four groups, reflecting to the aspects of accountability mechanisms that they may be used to assess: access, voice, neutrality, and outcome.

While the scope of the book is limited to human rights accountability mechanisms, this framework for analysis and assessment is general. It can be used to analyze and assess the legal accountability mechanisms applicable to any international organization. Hopefully, other researchers will find this framework useful when engaging in case studies of the accountability mechanisms of (other) international organizations.

Second, my book contains three in-depth case studies of the human rights accountability mechanisms applicable to situations where international organizations wield significant power vis-à-vis individuals:

  • Detention in the International Criminal Court’s Detention Centre.
  • The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy Missions.
  • Refugee camp administration by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In each case study, I apply the above-mentioned framework to identify, analyze, and assess the relevant accountability mechanisms. Each case study chapter begins with an introduction of the organization, how it exercises power over individuals in the situation in question, and what the organization’s human rights obligations are. Then the applicable accountability mechanisms are identified, analyzed and assessed in light of the normative yardsticks; access, voice, neutrality, and outcome.

Third, I end the book with an overview of the tendencies and paradoxes observed, a discussion of their generalizability and implications, and finally a sketch of the direction a reform agenda should take. Specifically, I suggest that to enhance accountability by curtailing the jurisdictional immunity of international organizations is neither desirable, nor easier to achieve than the alternatives. I instead advocate reform at the international level, by establishing new accountability mechanisms with jurisdiction over international organizations.

Lynanalyse: sak E-4/19 Campbell mot Norge

I forbindelse med undervisningen i EØS-rett har både jeg og studentene bidratt med analyser av den prinsipielle og helt ferske rådgivende uttalelsen fra EFTA-domstolen i sak E-4/19 Campbell mot Norge [2020] i et lukket diskusjonsforum på UiOs læringsplattform Canvas. Når jeg først hadde skrevet en lengre “lynanalyse” av dommen tenkte jeg det var dumt å la den bli liggende innelåst på diskusjonsforumet. Derfor deler jeg analysen her på bloggen også.

Jeg kaller denne analysen for en “lynanalyse”, siden den er en nedskriving av mine umiddelbare tanker når fra lesingen av EFTA-domstolens rågivende uttalelse i Campbell. Den har med andre ord blitt til i stor fart, med den følge at risikoen for feil og mangler er stor. Likevel håper jeg noen har nytte av analysen.

Sakens faktum ser jeg ikke noe behov for å skrive et sammendrag av, siden EFTA-domstolen i avsnittene 19–24 oppsummerer det sentrale faktumet på en effektiv måte:

“19  Ms Campbell, a Canadian national, has been married to Ms Gjengaar, a Norwegian national, since June 2012. […]

20  […] in December 2012, the couple moved to Sweden, where Ms Gjengaar registered with the local authorities and entered into a lease for a flat in Mörsil, approximately 200 kilometres from Trondheim, Norway. Ms Gjengaar applied for work unsuccessfully in Sweden until 21 February 2013, a period of approximately seven weeks. On 21 February 2013, Ms Gjengaar began working aboard the Hurtigruten coastal ships in Norway in shifts of three weeks aboard and three weeks off. During her time off, Ms Gjengaar travelled back to Sweden, but she also occasionally stayed in Trondheim, and from time to time took holidays in other countries. Ms Gjengaar left her job on the ship on 10 September 2013.

21  In January 2014, Ms Gjengaar formally registered as having moved back to Norway. From March 2014, Ms Gjengaar returned to work aboard the Hurtigruten coastal ships. […]

22  Ms Gjengaar has never had permanent employment aboard the Hurtigruten coastal ships, but has worked in accordance with fixed-term contracts, which she completed.

23  On 5 June 2014, Ms Campbell applied for a right of residence in Norway as a family member of an EEA national. She stated that she had lived with Ms Gjengaar in Sweden from December 2012 until January 2014.

24  The Directorate of Immigration refused the application on 23 September 2014 […]

Spørsmålene fra Høyesterett og hvordan EFTA-domstolen forholder seg til dem

De innledende bemerkningene fra EFTA-domstolen i avsnitt 42–46 bør dere lese litt nøye. Der får man et komprimert sammendrag av prosedyrene rundt foreleggelsessaker.

Høyesterett hadde, kort fortalt, stilt EFTA-domstolen tre spørsmål:

  1. Gjelder unionsborgerdirektivet artikkel 7(1)(b) jf. (2) analogisk for retursituasjon (mao: stemmer virkelig det EFTA-domstolen sa i Jabbi?)
  2. Hvordan skal vilkåret om at oppholdet i vertsstaten må ha “sammenhengende varighet” på minst tre måneder forstås? Kan det være avbrudd, f.eks. i forbindelse med jobb i hjemlandet?
  3. Hvordan skal vilkåret om at familielivet må være “reelt, slik at det ble lagt til rette for et familieliv i vertsstaten” forstås?

For en som har lest faktum og Høyesteretts spørsmål kan det virke som det mangler noe her, nemlig et spørsmål om reglene om fri bevegelighet for arbeidskraft kan gi en avledet rett til opphold. Kona til Campbell jobbet nemlig på Hurtigruta mens de bodde i Sverige. Hvis hun da ble forhindret fra å ta med seg Campbell hjem til Norge når hun flyttet tilbake dit, ville jo det være en restriksjon på hennes frie bevegelighet som arbeidstaker – det har EU-domstolen lagt til grunn i en rekke saker.

Det er prosessuelle grunner til at Høyesterett ikke stilte det spørsmålet. Campbell hadde ikke anført EØS-avtalen artikkel 28 for lagmannsretten, bare unionsborgerdirektivet. Heller ikke i anken til Høyesterett var EØS-avtalen artikkel 28 anført. Først etter at saken slapp inn til behandling for Høyesterett ba Campbells advokat om å få supplere argumentasjonen med EØS-avtalen artikkel 28. Det sa Høyesterett nei til i starten av april 2019:

“Spørsmålet om den ankende parts ektefelle er arbeidstaker etter EØS-avtalen artikkel 28, beror på et annet faktisk grunnlag enn det som er avgjørende ved vurderingen under direktiv 2004/38/EF artikkel 7. Utvalget er på den bakgrunn enig med ankemotparten i at det er tale om et nytt påstandsgrunnlag som krever samtykke etter tvisteloven § 30-7. Påstandsgrunnlaget vil etter utvalgets syn endre sakens karakter og vidløftiggjøre den. Det er videre relativt kort tid til ankeforhandlingen. Tillatelse blir derfor ikke gitt.”

Det hører med til historien at den muntlige ankeforhandlingen ble holdt i slutten av april 2019, og først etter det ble det besluttet å sende spørsmål til EFTA-domstolen. Når svarene på disse spørsmålene nå har kommet er planen å ha en ny muntlig høring med Høyesterett i storkammer.

EFTA-domstolen er naturlig nok ikke bundet av norske prosessregler. Men i hvor stor grad må EFTA-domstolen holde seg innenfor rammen av de spørsmål en nasjonal domstol har stilt? Dette redegjør EFTA-domstolen for i avsnittene 44–45 i Campbell. Det er ikke noe nytt her, men dommen er et godt eksempel på noe som skjer fra tid til annen: at spørsmålene en nasjonal domstol har stilt redefineres eller suppleres for å gi den nasjonale domstolen de EØS-rettslige elementene som den kan trenge for å avgjøre saken:

“it is incumbent on the Court to give as complete and as useful a reply as possible and it does not preclude the Court from providing the national court with all the elements of interpretation of EEA law which may be of assistance in adjudicating the case before it, whether or not reference is made thereto in the question referred” (avsnitt 45)

I neste avsnitt (46) slår EFTA-domstolen bare kort fast at den finner det nødvendig å også vurdere EØS-avtalen artikkel 28 (fri bevegelighet av arbeidskraft), selv om det ikke er reist spørsmål om dette.

Det blir interessant å se hva Høyesterett gjør nå (hvis ikke partene forliker saken). Hadde jeg vært Campbells advokat hadde jeg på ny forsøkt å supplere argumentasjonen med EØS-avtalen artikkel 28, og bedt Høyesterett om samtykke til det. Nå vil man ha bedre tid enn bare et tre-fire uker før muntlig høring, slik at kontradiksjonsproblemene ikke er så akutte, og EFTA-domstolens drøftelse av artikkel 28 vil nok gjøre det ubehagelig for Høyesterett å foreta en ny avskjæring.

EFTA-domstolens drøftelse etter reglene om fri bevegelighet av arbeidskraft, jf. EØS-avtalen artikkel 28

Tolkningen av EØS-avtalen artikkel 28 i Campbell ser ikke ut til å være nyskapende. Hele veien bygger EFTA-domstolen på veletablert rettspraksis fra EU-domstolen.

I avsnitt 49 minner EFTA-domstolen oss på at begrepet “arbeidstager” skal tolkes utvidende, og de klassiske kriteriene gjengis: “for a certain period of time a worker performs services for and under the direction of an employer in return for remuneration”. Domstolen legger også til at deltidsarbeidere er omfattet av begrepet.

Videre legger domstolen til at det foreligger et grenseoverskridende element når en EØS-borger flytter til et annet EØS-land, men jobber i hjemstaten (avsnitt 50). Det er nettopp dette som var situasjonen for kona til Campbell: hun var norsk, men bodde i Sverige samtidig som hun jobbet i Norge.

EFTA-domstolen påpeker også at når en EØS-borger har benyttet seg av retten til fri bevegelighet senere flytter tilbake til hjemstaten, vil det være en restriksjon om EØS-borgere ikke får ha med seg sin ektefelle. Forutsetningen for dette er at EØS-borgeren har bosatt seg genuing i den andre staten, og har etablert eller styrket et familieforhold der.  Med mindre denne restriksjonen lar seg rettferdiggjøre, må ektefellen få en avledet oppholdsrett sammen med EØS-borgere i sistnevntes hjemstat (avsnitt 51).

Avslutningsvis kommer EFTA-domstolen inn på arbeidsfordelingen mellom den og nasjonale domstoler:

“Whether, having regard to the facts of the case, Ms Gjengaar should be considered a worker as a matter of EEA law is for the referring court to determine. It is also for the referring court to decide whether family life was created or strengthened through genuine and continuous residence in the host State, by taking into account all relevant circumstances. ” (avsnitt 52).

Likevel klarer ikke EFTA-domstolen helt å dy seg fra å si noe om subsumsjonen. I neste setning skriver domstolen nemlig: “considering the information in the referring court’s request, it would appear that Ms Gjengaar is to be considered to be a worker pursuant to Article 28 EEA” (min uthevelse). Som vi ser er altså Campbell et eksempel på en avgjørelse der EFTA-domstolen også berører subsumsjonen, selv om det strengt tatt ikke er domstolens oppgave i en rådgivende uttalelse, jf. ODA-avtalen artikkel 34.

EFTA-domstolens drøftelse etter unionsborgerdirektivet artikkel 7(1)(b) jf. (2)

EFTA-domstolen velger å dele behandlingen av direktivet i to deler, ved å slå sammen de to siste av de tre spørsmålene Høyesterett stilte.

Det første spørsmålet EFTA-domstolen drøfter er om resultatet fra Jabbi-saken kan opprettholdes: at unionsborgerdirektivet artikkel 7(1)(b) jf. (2) kan anvendes analogisk når EØS-borgere returnerer til sitt hjemland med en tredjelandsborger. Dette spørsmålet er omstridt fordi EU-domstolen gjentatte ganger har uttalt at direktivet ikke kan tolkes analogisk, og at slike saker derfor må løses etter TEUV artikkel 21 (unionsborgerskapet). EØS-avtalen har ingen traktatbestemmelse som tilsvarer TEUV artikkel 21.

EFTA-domstolen ser kort og godt ingen grunn til å endre standpunktet som den inntok i Jabbi:

“Recent case law of the ECJ referred to in the Supreme Court of Norway’s request has upheld relevant findings of the judgment in O. and B. However, none of these judgments concern the interpretation of the Directive in the context of the EEA Agreement. The Court finds that the EEA legal context remains unaltered since Jabbi, and accordingly, as firmly supported by ESA and the Commission, the Court finds no reason to depart from the understanding of homogeneity and effectiveness as expressed in that judgment.” (avsnitt 58)

Om man leser bare dette avsnittet virker det som om EFTA-domstolen i Campbell opprettholder Jabbi fullt og helt. Men, om man leser domstolens begrunnelse nøye, er det kanskje mulig å se en viss nyansering. Som Gjermund Mathisen, director of competition and state aid i ESA, gjorde meg oppmerksom på via Twitter, opphører bruken av ordet “analogy” etter avsnitt 55. EFTA-domstolens egen begrunnelse for å opprettholde Jabbi er altså kjemisk fri for dette omstridte ordet.

Det EFTA-domstolen derimot skriver i sin konklusjon i avsnitt 59 er at unionsborgerdirektivet artikkel 7(1)(b) jf. (2) gjelder for (“are applicable to“) personer som Campbell. Også begrunnelsen soim leder frem til dette, særlig i avsnitt 57, fremhever hele tiden at det er snakk om en tolkning (“interpretation”). En tolkning er, metodisk sett, noe litt annet enn en analogi. Med andre ord kan det kanskje sies at EFTA-domstolen i Campbell bekrefter resultatet i Jabbi, men med noe mer overbevisende begrunnelse. Som folkerettsjurist blir jeg i alle fall mer overbevist av å lese en begrunnelse som bygger på en anerkjent kilde (traktat) som staten er bundet av. En analogislutning (som det EFTA-domstolen hevdet var det den gjorde i Jabbi) innebærer å etablere nye plikter for statene ved siden av eksisterende traktatforpliktelser – og det er vanskelig å akseptere.

Det andre EFTA-domstolen drøfter er Høyesteretts spørsmål nr. 2 og 3: hva er et “sammenhengende” og “genuint” opphold, og hva er forholdet mellom disse vilkårene og den generelle læren om misbruk av rettigheter? Også dette drøftes med løpende henvisninger til, og så vidt jeg kan se i full overenstemmelse med, EU-domstolens rettspraksis. På noen punkter er det ingen rettspraksis fra EU-domstolen, og EFTA-domstolen må derfor drøfte noen underspørsmål på et mer selvstendig vis.

EFTA-domstolen gir Norge rett i at ikke ethvert opphold i en annen EØS-stat, sammen med et familiemedlem, gir opphav til avledede rettigheter (avsanitt 62). Når det er sagt, vil et sammenhengende og genuint opphold i en vertsstat gå hånd i hånd med, og fungere som bevis for, at familieliv er etablert og/eller styrket i vertsstaten (avsnit 63).

I sin tolkning av begrepet “reelt” (“genuine”) / “sammenhengende” (continous) opphold (residence) peker EFTA-domstolen først på direktivets formål, som argument for at direktivets regler om oppholdsrett må tolkes utvidende for å sikre deres effektivitet. Følgelig kan det i følge EFTA-domstolen ikke være et krav til konstant fysisk tilstedeværelse i vertsstaten (avsnitt 65). Denne konklusjonen støtter EFTA-domstolen deretter opp med noen kontekstuelle tolkningsargumenter i avsnitt 66.

Antagelig i et forsøk på å operasjonalisere dette i lys av sakens faktum skriver EFTA-domstolen videre i avsnitt 67:

“Therefore, “residence” must be interpreted as allowing reasonable periods of absence which may or may not be work-related, and which as to their duration do not contravene and are not inconsistent with a genuine residence.”

Heller ikke her klarer EFTA-domstolen å dy seg fra å subsumere. I avsnitt 68 går domstolen langt i å konkludere med at kona til Campbell sine arbeidsperioden på Hurtigruta i Norge utgjør slike “reasonable periods of absence”.

Når det gjelder forholdet mellom direktivets regler om den generelle EØS-rettslig læren om misbruk av rettigheter, slår EFTA-domstolen fast at restriksjoner på rettigheter etter unionsborgerdirektivet bare kan gjøres i samsvar med direktivets artikkel 27 og 35 (avsnitt 69). Jeg synes det er vanskelig å lese dette annerledes enn at EFTA-domstolen utelukker at den generelle misbrukslæren kan brukes ved siden av direktivets regler. Når det er sagt, så er unionsborgerdirektivets artikkel 35 formulert nærmest som en henvisning til den generelle misbrukslæren med en liten presisering om at proformaekteskap skal anses som misbruk.

Misbrukslæren er riktignok neppe aktuell i Campbell, siden staten ikke en gang har anført den i prosessen for EFTA-domstolen (avsnitt 72).

New publication: “Dual Attribution of Conduct to both an International Organisation and a Member State”

Just in time for the holidays, my article on dual attribution was published in the Oslo Law Review today. Here is the abstract:

Responsibility, and in particular attribution of conduct, is one of the most intensely debated issues of public international law in the last couple of decades. In this article I seek to determine whether, how, and when acts or omissions may be attributed both to an international organisation and a member State (dual attribution). My aim is to clarify what dual attribution is, and what it is not. This is done in two steps. First, I (a) define the concept of dual attribution, (b) demonstrate that dual attribution is possible under the current law of international responsibility, and (c) establish a typology of dual attribution. Second, dual attribution is distinguished from three forms of shared responsibility. These are situations of two acts or omissions leading to one injury, derived responsibility, and the notion of piercing the corporate veil of international organisation. I end the article by criticising the disproportionate attention given to dual attribution in legal scholarship, given its limited practical utility.

Click here to access the full text on (open access).

I hope the article (or at least its illustrations!) can be useful for teaching purposes. Since OsLaw is an open access journal, you are free to share it widely, and also to e.g. re-use the illustrations in presentations under the terms of the CC-BY license.


New publication: “Suing the European Union in the UK: Tomanović et. al. v. the European Union et. al.”

ep_ej_2016_2_coverI have just published a piece in European Papers that critically analyzes the very interesting Tomanović judgment of the England and Wales High Court (Queen’s Bench Division).

Here is the abstract:

In its judgment of 13 February 2019 in the case of Tomanović et. al. v. the European Union et. al., the English High Court of Justice dismissed several claims based on human rights violations by EULEX Kosovo. Although the High Court’s dismissal was ultimately based on the lacking incorporation of the Treaty provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy into domestic law, the judgment contains extensive obiter dicta discussing key Union law matters. In this Insight I summarize, contextualize and reflect critically upon the High Court’s reasoning. In particular, I focus on the extent of the Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over – and the application of the Foto-Frost principle to – the CFSP.

Click here to access the full text on (open access).

It’s been a while…

… since the last time I updated this blog. Much has happened in both my personal and professional life over the last 2 years: I’ve finished my PhD, got a Senior Lecturship at the UiO, and last (but definitely not least) a daughter. Additionally, I have published a few smaller things that I forgot to post about here:

Currently I am working on publishing my PhD thesis, entitled The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations: A Framework and Three Case Studies. While you await its publication, you can enjoy this little teaser of an abstract:

International organizations are becoming increasingly powerful. As a consequence, they are now more capable than ever of violating the human rights of individuals. But how can international organizations be held to account for such violations? This thesis assesses the procedural mechanisms that may hold international organizations to account. First, a general framework for identifying, analyzing and assessing the accountability mechanisms of international organizations is established. Second, the general framework is applied to three distinct cases: the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy missions, Refugee camp administration by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Detention by the International Criminal Court. The thesis concludes that in none of the three case studies do the existing accountability mechanisms fulfill the normative requirements set out in the general framework. However, there are significant variations between the cases, and between different types of accountability mechanisms. In light of these findings, the thesis puts forward some hypotheses applicable to international organizations generally.

Judicial control of EU foreign policy: the ECJ judgment in Rosneft

Yesterday the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) delivered its judgment in the long-awaited Rosneft case (C-72/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:236). The judgment clarifies some aspects of the CJEU’s jurisdiction over the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Moreover, it is an important precedent in the field of EU sanctions law generally, and also resolve some questions of interpretation that are particular to the Russian sanctions.

In this blog post I will focus on what the judgment in Rosneft adds to the existing case-law on the review of CFSP decisions. Thus, I will not be discussing any of the more specific questions of EU sanctions law nor summarize the full 197 paragraph judgment. For those looking for a quick summary of the case, I refer to the succinct post by Maya Lester QC at the Sanctions Law blog.

Continue reading “Judicial control of EU foreign policy: the ECJ judgment in Rosneft”

New publication: “Accountability for Human Rights Violations by CSDP Missions: Available and Sufficient?”

ICLQAn article (partially) based on a chapter in my PhD thesis has just been published in International and Comparative Law Quarterly, issue no. 1/2017, pages 161-207. The title of the article is: Accountability for Human Rights Violations by CSDP Missions: Available and Sufficient?

Here is the abstract:

This article demonstrates that it is doubtful whether the accountability mechanisms available in connection with operative missions conducted under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) provide a sufficient level of protection when human rights are violated. The assessment of the CSDP accountability mechanisms—the Court of Justice of the European Union, domestic courts of EU Member States, and other mechanisms at the international level—is conducted in light of the requirements laid down in Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The consequences of the insufficiency of these mechanisms for the EU’s accession to the ECHR are also touched upon.

Click here to access the full text of the article (sharing link, subscription NOT required).

New publication: H. v. Council et al. – A Minor Expansion of the CJEU’s Jurisdiction Over the CFSP

ep_ej_2016_2_coverI just published a brief case note in the European Papers’ European Forum on case C-455/14 P H v. Council et al. [2016]. That case is the latest in a line of recent cases that help clarify and, arguably, expand the CJEU’s jurisdiction over the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The case note is available here.

European Papers is a new (2016) open-access e-journal. And it is not only a journal, but also a forum for discussions of critical discussions of European legal issues through short, peer-reviewed pieces (“Insights” and “Highlights”). See for more information about the journal and the European Forum.

The EFTA Court discusses its own legitimacy

(Originally published on the PluriCourts blog.)

EFTAcourtJuly 26, 2016, the EFTA Court released a preliminary judgment in case E-28/15 Yankuba Jabbi v. Norway [2016]. The case concerned the free movement for persons under European Economic Area (EEA) law, specifically the derived rights of third-country nationals to free movement.

The subject-matter of the case may be of less interest to PluriCourts, however, in paragraph 71 the court discusses its own legitimacy. There the EFTA Court writes (emphasis added):

Without independence in its adjudication no court could claim legitimacy. Every court must exercise its jurisdiction based upon the relevant legal sources. An essential legal source for the Court is the case law of the ECJ and the General Court. That case law must nevertheless be read in its context. Normally, this does not pose particular problems because the context is the same. However, when it comes to the legal sources in this case, the ECJ has partly ruled out the application of the Directive and instead applied the concept of Union citizenship in evolution of the free movement of persons in the EU.”

It is understandable that the EFTA Court felt the need to emphasize the importance of basing its judgments on relevant legal sources, given the difficult legal questions that arose.* Moreover, this is only a couple of sentences, and “legitimacy” is mentioned only once.

Still, I cannot remember having seen a reference to the concept of legitimacy comparable to this from the EFTA Court in any other decision of an international court or tribunal. But perhaps the readers of this blog know of more examples? If so, please add a comment or send a tweet in my direction (@StianOby).

*For those interested in an overview of the details of the Jabbi case, and the legal issues concerning the free movement of persons in the EEA, I recommend this great blog post written by Karin Fløistad – my colleague and author of a just-submitted PhD thesis on the EEA agreement in a revised EU constitutional framework for welfare services.

Jurisdiction, legislation, and creative interpretations in the Opinion of AG Wathelet in C-72/15 Rosneft

(co-authored with Alexander Arnesen, former research assistant at the University of Oslo’s Centre for European Law)

The frequent legal challenges to the European Union’s economic sanctions regimes have resulted in several judgments chiseling out key issues of EU law. Case C-72/15 Rosneft, which will be decided in the coming months, provides the European Court of Justice (ECJ) yet another opportunity to do so. In particular, the Rosneft case invites the ECJ to clarify its jurisdiction and power of judicial review over decisions taken by the Council under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) – in the context of a reference for preliminary ruling.

The recently-released Opinion of Advocate General Wathelet in the Rosneft case was therefore eagerly awaited, and in this blog post we will examine two aspects of it. First, we will discuss his conclusion that the ECJ has jurisdiction to review the legality of CFSP decisions by way of preliminary ruling. Second, we have some remarks on his rather swift and somewhat formalistic argument for why CFSP decisions can never be regarded as “legislative acts” – regardless of how they are formulated. Continue reading “Jurisdiction, legislation, and creative interpretations in the Opinion of AG Wathelet in C-72/15 Rosneft”

The Bosphorus presumption is still alive and kicking: the case of Avotiņš v. Latvia

Judges of the Latvian Supreme Court
Judges of the Latvian Supreme Court

Yesterday, 23 May 2016, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Avotiņš v. Latvia. This seems to be the ECtHR’s first detailed appraisal of the so-called Bosphorus presumption after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Opinion 2/13 rejected a draft agreement providing for the accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). It also provides a first glimpse of how the ECtHR views the EU law principle of mutual trust, which has become particularly dear to the CJEU over the last couple of years.

Continue reading “The Bosphorus presumption is still alive and kicking: the case of Avotiņš v. Latvia”

A report from the oral hearing in Case C-72/15 (Rosneft)

Snow over the CJEU as it hears the Rosneft case.
Snow over the CJEU as it hears the Rosneft case.

This week I attended the hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in case C-71/15 (Rosneft). This is one of several cases brought by the Russian energy company Rosneft against the EU sanctions regime established following the Russian military intervention in Crimea. The case has its basis in a request for preliminary ruling by the High Court of Justice (England & Wales), Queen’s Bench Division. In the reference, the High Court of Justice asks the CJEU to determine the validity of several provisions of the EU economic sanctions against Russia.

As the legal issues in play in this case are very closely connected with the precise legal nature of the sanctions challenged, it is necessary to first describe the contested parts of the EU sanctions regime in some detail. Then I will go through the submissions of the parties, and offer some preliminary analysis of the arguments presented. My focus is the same as that of the oral hearing; on the issue of the jurisdiction of the CJEU to review sanctions adopted under the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Before we start I must also add a small disclaimer: this report is based on my own notes and recollections, and there may thus be inaccuracies, misunderstandings, or plain errors.

The contested parts of the EU sanctions regime

The contested parts of the EU sanctions regime in this case are the measures “targeting sectoral cooperation and exchanges with Russia” – which I will refer to as the sectoral measures. These sectoral measures are laid down in Council decision 2014/512/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/833/EU (links to latest consolidated versions). Essentially, these provisions prohibit EU persons, natural or legal, from engaging in contractual relations with certain Russian state-owned companies and banks, and from providing such companies and banks access to financial markets.

Sectoral measures may be contrasted with the targeted sanctions laid down in Council decision 2014/145/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/269/EU (links to latest consolidated versions). Such targeted sanctions directly affect named Russian natural and legal persons (not including Rosneft) by inter alia obliging European financial institutions to freeze their assets. With regard to the sectoral measures, on the other hand, Rosneft primarily feels the sting of them through the lack of access to European suppliers, consultants, credit institutions, etc.

This distinction between targeted and sectoral sanctions is also reflected in TFEU article 215. According to that provision the Union may in the form of a regulation adopt measures providing for ” the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries” (i.e. sectoral measures) or “restrictive measures […] against natural or legal persons” (i.e. targeted sanctions). Since sectoral measures are formulated as prohibitions on EU citizens and undertakings from engaging in such activities, they only seems to affect Rosneft indirectly; it is their EU partners that are now prohibited from doing business with Rosneft. Note the use of the word seems in the previous sentence. Rosneft argues that it is also directly affected by the sectoral measures, and that they should be regarded as targeted sanctions. Still, the following summary of the hearing more or less presupposes that the sanctions are sectoral measures – which was also generally presupposed during the hearing.

A final peculiarity concerning CFSP sanctions regimes is that they are enacted through the use of two separate legal instruments. First, by a Council decision under TEU article 29. Second, and following such a decision, the sanctions are implemented within the internal market by means of a Council regulation under just-mentioned TFEU article 215. In the present case the relevant instruments are Council decision 2014/512/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/833/EU, which I will refer to in the following as “the CFSP decision” and “the regulation”, respectively. The relationship between the regulation and the CFSP decision was a key factor in relation to many of the issues discussed during the oral hearing in Rosneft.

The CFSP decision is adopted under a provision in the CFSP chapter of the TEU, namely article 29. This has certain consequences. First, legislative acts are precluded under the CFSP, see TEU article 31(1) i.f. Second, being adopted under the CFSP chapter the jurisdiction of the CJEU to review the decision is generally excluded according to TFEU article 275(1). Third, while the EU member states “shall ensure that their national policies conform to” the CFSP decision, the decision is not binding upon persons (natural or legal).

The regulation adopted under TFEU article 215 implements the CFSP decision within the internal market. That regulation is not a CFSP measure. This means that it is binding in its entirety, also on natural or legal persons, and directly applicable within the legal system of the EU member states (TFEU article 288(2)). Moreover, the general jurisdiction of the CJEU to review acts of the Union institution should therefore apply. (But see the Commission’s arguments to the contrary discussed below.)

What kind of provisions the two instruments should contain when the Union imposes sanctions is less clear. The only guidance we seem to get from the constituent treaties is that (a) legislative acts cannot be enacted in the form of CFSP decisions, and that (b) when a CFSP decision “provides for the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries” the Council shall adopt “the necessary measures” in the form of a regulation under TFEU article 215. In practice, the wording of the CFSP decision and the regulation is more or less identical. This is also the case here. The provisions Rosneft is challenging are almost word-for-word identical in the CFSP decision and the regulation.

Continue reading “A report from the oral hearing in Case C-72/15 (Rosneft)”

New paper: The Reinterpretation of TFEU Article 344 in Opinion 2/13 and Its Potential Consequences

My first proper journal article was just published in the German Law Journal, volume 16 (2015) no. 1. Here is the abstract:

On 18 December 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered Opinion 2/13, and stunned the legal world by declaring that the Draft Agreement on the Accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights was incompatible with the constituent treaties of the Union. In this contribution note I will focus on only one aspect of Opinion 2/13: the CJEU’s interpretation and application of the TFEU article 344. Specifically, I will compare the approach taken in Opinion 2/13 with that of the CJEU’s earlier case-law. I will argue that the reasoning and conclusion concerning TFEU article 344 in Opinion 2/13 is clearly at odds with this earlier case-law, notably the leading MOX Plant case. I will also demonstrate how the approach to the issue in Opinion 2/13 – if it indeed reflects lex lata – seriously affects numerous treaties that have already been concluded by the Union.

German Law Journal is an online open access journal, so you can download the full contribution by following this link.

Opinion 2/13: A bag of coal from the CJEU

CJEU - Grand Hall of JusticeJust in time for Christmas, on 18 December 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down its Opinion 2/13 on the Union’s planned accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). To the surprise of most, the CJEU found the draft agreement on the accession of the Union to the ECHR incompatible with the Union’s primary (read: constitutional) law.

Not only did the CJEU find the accession agreement incompatible with the Union’s constituent treaties. Its Opinion reads like a direct and unequivocal attack on the accession agreement and, as I will come back to, it seems to be very difficult to satisfy the CJEU’s objections by way of amending the accession agreement. Instead of the expected Christmas present of a signable accession agreement, the Court brought the negotiators a bag of coal.

Continue reading “Opinion 2/13: A bag of coal from the CJEU”

Some thoughts on the ECJ hearing on the Draft EU-ECHR Accession Agreement (Part 2 of 2)

I was in Luxembourg 5-6 May 2014, attending the hearing at the European Court of Justice concerning the Draft Agreement for the Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. In these two posts (click here for part 1) I summarize the main arguments presented at the hearing, and provide some initial analysis and thoughts. Finally, I would not be a lawyer if I did not point out that some caveats apply: I am writing based on my own notes and recollection, and thus there might be inaccuracies, omissions and misattributions. If you come across any, feel free to point them out in the comments section below. I would also greatly appreciate any other comments or thoughts you might have in relation to this case.

The second and final day of oral argument at the ECJ in the case concerning the validity of the Draft Agreement for the Accession of the EU to the ECHR (hereinafter: the DAA) focused on the questions put to the parties by the judges yesterday. Those questions are summarized at the end of yesterday’s blog post. Moreover, some of the judges, as well as the Advocate General, asked further questions towards the end of the hearing.

Continue reading “Some thoughts on the ECJ hearing on the Draft EU-ECHR Accession Agreement (Part 2 of 2)”

Some thoughts on the ECJ hearing on the Draft EU-ECHR accession agreement (Part 1 of 2)

I was in Luxembourg 5-6 May 2014, attending the hearing at the European Court of Justice concerning the Draft Agreement for the Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. In these two posts (click here for part 2) I summarize the main arguments presented at the hearing, and provide some initial analysis and thoughts. Finally, I would not be a lawyer if I did not point out that some caveats apply: I am writing based on my own notes and recollection, and thus there might be inaccuracies, omissions and misattributions. If you come across any, feel free to point them out in the comments section below. I would also greatly appreciate any other comments or thoughts you might have in relation to this case.

Monday May 5th was the opening day for the case concerning the Draft Agreement for the Accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights (hereinafter: the DAA). The case is brought under the procedure provided for in TFEU article 218(11) by the Commission, which is asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the question of whether the DAA is compatible with the constituent treaties of the European Union. Much could be (and has been) written about this question, this case, and the spectacle that is an ECJ hearing before the full court. In these couple of posts I will, however, focus on the submissions of the parties. I will give you what I perceived as the highlights of the hearing, and provide some initial commentary.
Continue reading “Some thoughts on the ECJ hearing on the Draft EU-ECHR accession agreement (Part 1 of 2)”

Pensumrelevant artikkel: den internasjonale rettens påvirkning på norsk rett

Studentmagasine Pacta kontaktet meg for noen uker siden, da de ønsket en artikkel om folkerettens innvirkning på norsk rett — et tema som er meget pensumrelevant for studenter på andre studieår. Resultatet finner du i siste nummer av Pacta (nr. 23), og på SSRN.

Iran har en «umistelig rett» til å anrike uran

Har Iran har en rett til å anrike uran eller ikke? Dette er en av de store uløste spørsmålene i de pågående forhandlingene mellom Iran, på den ene side, og vetomaktene i FNs sikkerhetsråd samt Tyskland, på den annen side.

Et juridisk spørsmål
USA har som sitt klare utgangspunkt at ingen land ut over de som i dag har atomprogrammer har rett til å anrike uran. Iran mener på sin side at alle land har en slik rett. Vi står her altså overfor en uenighet om et juridisk spørsmål. Et spørsmål om stater har rett til å anrike uran, eller om de ikke har noen slik rett.

Den folkerettslige hovedregelen er at statene er suverene innenfor eget territorium. Overført på den konkrete saken betyr dette at alle stater i verden (også Iran) som utgangspunkt står fritt til å anrike uran. Unntak fra dette utgangspunktet må skje ved positiv folkerett, for eksempel ved traktat.

Stormaktenes forvridde utgangspunkt
Med dette utgangspunktet klarlagt kan vi ta for oss stormaktenes argumentasjon. USA påstår at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), som Iran og 189 av verdens øvrige stater er part til, ikke gir Iran noen rett til å anrike uran.

Merk hvordan dette spørsmålet er stilt på helt gal måte. Utgangspunktet er, som vi har sett, at Iran har rett til å anrike uran. Det avgjørende er altså ikke om NPT artikkel IV gir dem en slik rett. Om NPT ikke skulle gi Iran rett til anrikning, så er det helt uproblematisk: Iran har allerede denne retten.

Om USA skal finne støtte sin påstand om manglende rett på anrikning i NPT må det i så fall være i form av et forbud. Altså at NPT innebærer et innhugg i Irans rett til å anrike uran – et unntak fra hovedregelen.

NPT forplikter alle partene (inkludert Iran) til å unnlate å bidra til spredning av atomvåpen. Her er artikkel IV interessant, fordi den slår fast at NPT ikke skal være til hinder for statenes «inalienable right» (umistelige rett) til å forske på, produsere, og bruke atomenergi for fredelige formål. Samtidig forbyr NPT artikkel I og II andre stater enn de nåværende atommaktene å anskaffe eller produsere atomvåpen.

Samlet må dette innebære en rett til å anrike uran i den grad der er nødvendig for produksjon av atomenergi. Den politisk, men ikke rettslig bindende avtalen inngått mellom stormaktene og Iran i Geneve forrige helg synes også bekrefte dette, da den åpner for at Iran kan anrike uran til en grad som er tilstrekkelig for fredelig bruk i atomkraftverk.

Når det er sagt, så er det et poeng at Irans rett til anrikning kan være tilsidesatt av resolusjoner fra FNs sikkerhetsråd. Disse er i henhold til FN-charteret artikkel 25 bindende for alle FNs medlemsstater,og går i følge artikkel 103 foran andre folkerettslige regler.

Sikkerhetsrådet har i en rekke resolusjoner fordømt Irans atomprogram, og iverksatt sanksjoner. Men disse sanksjonene er av en midlertidig karakter. De har blitt iverksatt hovedsakelig på grunn av Irans manglende respekt for internasjonale regler om inspeksjon av atomanlegg. Om Iran overholder disse reglene i fremtiden vil sanksjonene måtte oppheves.

Juridisk spørsmål – rettslig avgjørelse?
Siden spørsmålet om rett til anrikning er rent juridisk kan det tenkes løst via fredelige, rettslige tvisteløsningsmekanismer. FNs Generalforsamling kunne for eksempel anmodet ICJ, den internasjonale domstolen i Haag, om en rådgivende (men autoritativ) uttalelse om hvor vidt stater har en rett til anrike uran, NPT tatt i betraktning.

Dette krever imidlertid et flertallsvedtak i FNs generalforsamling. Men, siden jussen ser ut til å være på Irans side, synes det ikke å være i stormaktenes interesser å anmode ICJ om en rådgivende uttalelse. Det vil også være vanskelig for Iran å skaffe flertall for en slik anmodning. Dessuten kan det tenkes at Iran ikke vil ta den risikoen for tap som alltid er til stede ved en rettslig prosess.

Grunnlag for et varig kompromiss?
Begge parter ser det med andre ord som mest fornuftig å beholde kontroll over konflikten og fortsette forhandlingene. Samtidig synes begge parter å opprettholde sine uforenelige standpunkter.

Utfordringen i forhandlingene blir å finne et kompromiss som verken anerkjenner eller underkjenner Irans rett til å anrike uran. Om et slikt kompromiss skulle finnes, er det langt fra klart at det vil kunne være varig. Et kompromiss vil skyve den manglende enigheten under teppet for nå, men faren er stor for at tvisten vil blusse opp igjen på et senere tidspunkt.

Om en varig løsning skal oppnås bør stormaktene innrømme det åpenbare: Iran har en «umistelig rett» til å anrike uran for fredelige formål. Innrømmelsen trenger ikke komme gratis: bruk den som en brekkstang for å få inn strenge begrensninger og kontrolltiltak i en endelig avtale. Slik vil man kunne oppnå det samme som man realistisk kan forvente av et slikt umulig kompromiss som skissert i forrige avsnitt, men antagelig i en mer robust og varig form.

Panel debate: The EU and the USA – A Trade Agreement?

Today I participated in a panel debate on the topic of the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty that is currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA. The video stream from the panel debate may be viewed right here (the first couple of minutes of the video are in Norwegian, but the panel debate itself is in English):

Panel participants

  • William R.Taliaferro – Deputy Counselor for Political & Economic Affairs, Embassy of the USA to Norway
  • Martin Skylv –  EU delegation to Norway
  • Anne Louise Aartun Bye – Senior adviser, Internationaliztion and European politics, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO)
  • Stian Øby Johansen – PhD fellow at the UiO Centre for European Law

Simple mathematics indicate that the ECtHR could drain its overflowed docket in 8 years

ImageOn June 30, 2011 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had a grand total of 152,800 applications pending before it. By March 31, 2013 this number had been reduced by over 30,000 applications in one and a half year – to a total of 122,450 pending applications. This astonishing development proves that the recently implemented Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the restructuring of the ECtHR’s registry, is in fact working.

If the ECtHR can keep this pace up, simple mathematics implies that it will have cleaned out its docket by 2021. Or maybe even before that, considering the fact that the number of new applications is slowly decreasing. This suggests that any further attempts at increasing its efficiency or reduce its current caseload should be of a temporary nature, as the ECtHR would been able to cope well if its docket was not already flooded when reforms could finally be put in place.

The big question is, however, whether one can apply such simple mathematics. Protocol 14 aims mostly to squash and filter out the most glaringly inadmissible applications. Apparently, the registry of the ECtHR was reorganized with the same goal in mind. If the 30,000 applications thrown out in the last year and a half are mainly those that are clearly inadmissible, the numbers may be skewed. Throwing out clearly inadmissible cases requires much less resources than deciding admissible cases on the merits.

It therefore remains to be seen whether the simple mathematics stated in my rather provocative header are an accurate prediction of things to come. My gut feeling is that simple mathematics are inadequate. To find a more accurate answer I think that we need a study of the composition of inadmissible/admissible cases of those 30,000 removed from the docket the last year and a half. This must then be compared with the expected composition of admissible/inadmissible cases before the ECtHR in total.

(If anyone knows of such studies, or relevant and available data, please give me a heads up in the comments.)

Draft EU-ECHR Accession Agreement finalized

As reported by news agencies just before the weekend, the European Union and the 47 member states of the Council of Europe has just agreed on draft legal instruments that enable the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights – after almost three years of negotiations. Antonie Buyse over at the ECHRblog has written a good and concise post on the topic already, which I recommend that anyone with an interest in the process should read.

While it was common knowledge that the negotiations were on the final stretch, at least I would not have expected that the final instruments would be ready before at least the next meeting of the delegations. That the delegations were able to solve all the outstanding issues this quickly must be seen as a positive sign, and suggests that the remaining obstacles will not render this agreement moot.

As Antonie Buyse mentioned in the above-mentioned post at ECHRblog, three main hurdles remain. First, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will be asked to give its opinion on whether the draft instruments are compatible with EU law. If the ECJ finds that the draft Accession Agreement is incompatible with EU law, it has the power under TFEU article 218 (11) to forbid the EU institutions and the EU member states from entering into the agreement. However, most experts consider it unlikely that the ECJ will reject the Accession Agreement.

Secondly, a formal decision to sign the instruments and accede to the ECHR must be made by the Council of the European Union, after obtaining consent from the European Parliament, see TFEU article 218 (6)(a)(ii). Since the Council consists of 27 of the states that participated in the drafting of the Accession Agreement, there seems to be little risk of them blocking a decision. The European Parliament is also generally in favor of acceding to the ECHR. It is thus difficult to see that they would try and block the process.

Thirdly, the signature and ratification by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe + the EU itself is needed before the Accession Agreement enters into force. 27 of these 47 states are EU members, and will be bound to sign and ratify the agreement upon the above-mentioned decision in the EU Council. The EU will also be bound to sign according to the same decision. As for the 20 remaining CoE states it will be more interesting to see whether they will cooperate, whether they intend to block the process, or even block it. Russia did, for instance, refuse to ratify protocol 14 to the ECHR for years and years.

Only after going through all these loops, the Accession Agreement will enter into force, and from that day the EU will formally become the 48th party to the European Convention on Human Rights.