Thursday, February 26, 2009

Georgia v. Russia

ECHR is hearing the case brought by Georgia against the Russian Federation on April 16, 2009 on various grounds under the European Convention on Human Rights. see here.

The case stems from a specific set of events in 2006-2007 but is highly political in nature given the tense relationship between the two countries, manifested more and more in recent military showdowns. Is international law becoming a tool for political vengeance or is it really the only avenue for justice for minority rights? A smaller nation seeking justice against a bigger and stronger nation? But in world politics is there really such a concept of 'smaller' nation when there are multiple sets of interdependent and highly sophisticated alliances? Is the old flawed maxim 'might is right' relevant when 'might' is measured in many different conflicting ways, such as military, strength of liberal institutions, economy, etc. etc. etc. But is 'just is right' maxim as flawed given the defects and imperfections in administration of justice in national courts as well as international ones. When justice is sought on the international stage draped by heavy curtains of politics enmeshed in violent history and omnipresent nationalism, does prevalence of that 'justice' bring upon desirable results? ... Nothing is perfect and yet true justice demands purity and absolute objectivity. When 'victim' is screaming in pain, the rights of the perpetrator sink unnoticed and suffer incredibly along the way... Balance must be struck lest more injustice, fed and waxed by its own weight...

One thing is certain, lessons can be drawn for all from all these cases... Russia has got a lot of work to do in improving its treatment of minorities inside its borders... Nationalism and xenophobia have reached unacceptable levels in recent years... Regardless of the political background and possible justifications for some of the political events, the end result is simply not to be tolerated...

Thinking along those lines, as I am hopeful and extremely excited to visit ECHR in April and be present at the hearing of this interesting case along with a group of students from Moscow State University.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

50th anniversary of ECHR

At its opening of the new Judicial Year on January 30, 2009 the European Court of Human Rights marked its 50th anniversary.

In his welcoming speech President Costa expressed:

The national courts help us to ensure that States respect the rights guaranteed by the
Convention, demonstrating the importance of domestic remedies and therefore the
principle of subsidiarity; if the Convention is a “living instrument” it is also because
you make it live. International courts show that the existence and expanded role of
numerous international judicial bodies make possible a joint effort to uphold justice
and fundamental rights....

The “resurrection of human rights” which occurred at the end of the 1940s was of
course ideological, but this ideology was ultimately carried forward by an almost
unanimous political wave of enthusiasm. At the United Nations the Universal
Declaration was adopted without a single vote against. It was a revolt (“never again”)
and an aspiration (for peace, justice and freedom).
More recently new threats and a new context have emerged: terrorism, crime (whether
organised or not), different types of trafficking. All this has created tension in public
opinion and in our societies and a tendency to give precedence to order and security.
The influx of clandestine immigrants driven by poverty and despair has an impact on
policies, but has also been accompanied by xenophobia, racism and intolerance, or
contributes to their growth. In the same way the connection which is, sometimes overhastily,
made between certain types of religious belief and violence, or indeed
terrorism, has exacerbated susceptibilities, yet freedom of religion is also a
fundamental human right. This requires dialogue and not insults....

Moreover, the ideology of the protection of rights can no longer rely on the
groundswell of support that carried it forward in the fifties. It has come up against the
difficulties of establishing or maintaining peace, the return of materialism and of
individualism, the extolling of national interests, and more recently the financial and
economic crisis which could force freedoms into second place. Bismarck’s old
expression “Realpolitik” has reappeared and is regularly cited.
The protection of human rights has thus become more fragile, more complex, but does
that mean that it must yield?
My answer is No. On the contrary, I would argue that it is necessary to consolidate
and breathe new life into these rights, to bring about their aggiornamento.
For the full speech

In this speech I sensed the attempts to elaborate on the current state of human rights law and enforcement. Also it was an attempt to briefly delineate the challenges that human rights have been facing in the 21st century world politics... Quite amazing how the age dictates new formulas and new approaches to emulate old and well-settled principles...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life lessons...

Out of life lessons and bitter experiences there comes light and wisdom... Not new to anyone, but it is worth repeating them like mantra every day... Here are some elaborated by me and worth repeating on this blog:

With some exceptions, you are in control of your destiny. You can carve your own reality.

When you find yourself at crossroads, choose the path that leads you to happiness as defined only by you for yourself.

If you are smart, good-looking and successful there will always be those ready to tear you apart, to envy you, mistreat you, attack you and throw bricks at you...

Protect yourself from evil but do not let fear and bitterness distort your inner peace.

Seek and find peace in your soul and try to spread that to your surroundings. Be the angel of love and warmth for people.

Love and give your life to your loved one but remember not to drown in the intensity of your emotion. Be prepared that your heart may break and you may not be loved. Let go. True love is unconditional.

Fight for your love and never lose hope.

Be outspoken and fight for the oppressed, but remember moments when it is best to shut up and let silence and dignity win your way.

Never lose your dignity even if you are desperate.

Dream and make your dreams come true but remember your place and your limitations.

Believe in your high ideals and do not compromise them but be realistic about life and people.

Do not ever allow people walk over you, use you and abuse you, but forgive and forget when they manage to do so.

Be ambitious but remember the fundamentals of life and what you may lose on the way to your goals.

Know yourself and be proud of your accomplishments but do not allow arrogance and vanity overshadow your achievements. The greatest people on Earth never knew how great they were.

If you are stuck on the road and lost, let your star guide you. Never lose faith in yourself.

Do not compete with others. Compete only with yourself and do absolutely your best. Often you are your worst enemy.

Do not expect people to recognize you and place you on your proper place. Mentally know your own place. Be humble and realistic for everything is relative in life.

Remember, human potential is ultimately without limits. Reach your potential by working hard, with integrity and fair play.

Be independent and do not let others control you and distort your originality. But with that search and find your flock, your crowd, and know the great value of teamwork. What you can't accomplish all alone can be easily accomplished by a group of like-minded.

Develop iron will, discipline and strength to meet and endure numerous challenges and misfortunes in life. Rely only on yourself and do not expect help from others.

Put your energy in service for humanity and always remember the weak, the oppressed, the least fortunate, persecuted and accused. Your life will be fulfilled only if you sacrifice yourself for them.

Never lose faith in the humanity. Always hope for better and brighter future...

[Painting by Leonardo da Vinci "Madonna in the Cave."]