Berlin – ESI at Bundestag Human Rights Committee: enforcing the European Convention on Human Rights in the face of a dramatic failure

10 June 2024
Video: Deutscher Bundestag

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to a hearing of the committee on human rights and humanitarian aid in the German Bundestag to speak about the enforcement of international and European human rights conventions on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights and 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In his statement, Gerald attributed the lack of enforcement of the European Convention on Human Rights to the weakening of the Council of Europe. He argued that its inconsistent approach to states such as Azerbaijan and Russia, which had set themselves apart through corruption and systematic disregard for the judgements of the ECHR, had caused significant damage.

Gerald also pointed out that Germany had long advocated for keeping Russia in the Council of Europe despite these issues. He stressed that such a mistake must not be repeated, particularly regarding Azerbaijan. He noted that Azerbaijan’s membership is currently suspended and that it ranks last in the implementation of ECHR standards. Therefore, it must not be allowed to return to the Council of Europe under any circumstances.

He said that the “crisis of credibility” can only be overcome if member states remember the origins of the Council of Europe as a “club of democracies”. States that do not adhere to standards must be excluded.

The panel also included Hartmut-Emanuel Kayser (lawyer), Christian Mihr (deputy secretary general of Amnesty International), Professor Angelika Nußberger (director of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection, Faculty of Law, University of Cologne), Stefan von Raumer (lawyer in Berlin and vice president of the German Bar Association), Günter Schirmer (head of the Secretariat of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) and Michael Windfuhr (deputy director of the German Institute for Human Rights).

Gerald Knaus
Gerald Knaus. Photo: Deutscher Bundestag