LAWSG152 Human Rights in Europe

LAWSG152: HUMAN RIGHTS IN EUROPE
Credit value: 30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor: George Letsas
Other Teachers: Piet Eeckhout;
Colm O’Cinneide;
Ronan McCrea;
Ingrid Boccardi
Teaching Delivery: 20 x 2-hour weekly seminars, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: LAWSG152A Human Rights in Europe I: Theory and Practice of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
LAWSG152B Human Rights in Europe II: European Union and Human Rights
Qualifying module for: LLM in European Union Law
LLM in Human Rights Law
LLM in Jurisprudence and Legal Theory
LLM in Public Law
Introductory video
Assessment
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay
Final Assessment: One 3,000-word essay (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

What is the point and purpose of international human rights treaties? How should supranational European Courts interpret human rights? What grounds their legitimacy to expand the scope and meaning of human rights? Under what conditions, if any, should supranational courts give states a margin of appreciation? This module explores both legal and philosophical questions about the interpretation of European human rights and the legitimacy supranational courts. It also looks at the model of review that supranational courts use and explores the test of proportionality in the light of philosophical theories about the moral foundations of human rights.

The first part (term 1), taught by Professor George Letsas, is on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The aim of this module is two-fold: First to explore the way in which the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted the ECHR and the model of judicial review that the Court applies. Second, to evaluate the Court’s approach in the light of concerns about the Court’s legitimacy as well as in the light of theories of human rights.

The second part of the module (term 2), taught by Professor Eeckhout, Dr McCrea, Dr Boccardi and Professor O’Cinneide, focuses on the EU. It examines issues such as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the accession of the EU to the ECHR, and explores the role of courts and other political actors. This part of the module looks at case law that illustrates the main tendencies, and also explores recent developments, such as the effects of the economic crisis and the protection of migrants in the EU. Human rights are taking on a central role in legal documents, judicial decision-making and political debates in the EU. The aim of the term is to investigate this development, and analyse the value of the protection of human rights as constitutional principles of the European polity. The course examines the substantive law and its monitoring. In terms of substantive law, it explores issues such as the inclusion of human rights in the treaties, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Lisbon Treaty. These raise conflicts between social rights and economic freedoms, as well as more general questions on interpretation of rights such as privacy, religion and family life, which are analysed. The role of rights in the external relations of the EU is also assessed. In terms of the monitoring, the course examines the role of courts and new methods of governance. It also looks at the contested issue of the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. The course looks at case law that illustrates the main tendencies, and explores recent developments, such as the issue of immigration and the EU economic crisis and human rights.

Module syllabus:

Term 1

  1. The ECHR: Overview of the Convention Rights and the Approach of the Strasbourg Court
  2. The ECHR as a ‘Living Instrument’
  3. The Margin of Appreciation and Subsidiarity
  4. International Human Rights, Legality and Legitimacy
  5. The European Review Model Part I: The Nature and Scope of ECHR rights: Absolute Rights
  6. The European Review Model Part II: Proportionality
  7. Balancing and ‘Necessary in a Democratic Society’
  8. Foundations of Rights: Trumps or Scales?
  9. The Future of the European Court of Human Rights

Term 2

  1. Introduction: The constitutionalisation of human rights in the European Union
  2. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  3. The role of the European Court of Justice
  4. EU Accession to the ECHR
  5. Social rights v economic freedoms
  6. The Financial Crisis and Human Rights
  7. Equality and non-discrimination
  8. Human rights in the external relations of the EU
  9. Human Trafficking for Sexual and Labour Exploitation
  10. Human Rights and Immigration
Recommended materials:

  • Harris, O’Boyle & Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, 3rd edition (2014)
  • Paul Craig & De Burca, EU and Human Rights
  • George Letsas, A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University Press, paperback edition (2009)
  • Stephen Greer, The European Convention on Human Rights: Achievements, Problems and Prospects, Cambridge University Press (2006)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading: