Shared responsibility in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights: addressing challenges with (new) judicial tools

Sarajevo 25 October 2019
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Shared responsibility in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights: addressing challenges with (new) judicial tools

The two-day Regional conference on ensuring the principle of subsidiarity of the European Court of Human Rights through empowering the judiciaries to apply the Court’s standards held in Sarajevo on 24 and 25 October 2019 gathered over 40 participants across the region.

Today we are launching a new program which is not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina but for the Western Balkans and it is called “Initiative for legal certainty in the Western Balkans”. The project will last for three years’ and it is worth 300,000 EUR funded by the European Union and co-founded and implemented by the Council of Europe, and is complementing national program for Bosnia and Herzegovina which we are implementing with Kingdom of Norway,” stated Ambassador Drahoslav Štefanek, Head of Office of the Council of Europe in Sarajevo.

The two-day conference gathered the representatives of superior courts from the Western Balkans region. The participants discussed the role of national courts in ensuring that the European Convention on Human Rights is well embedded within the national judicial systems and to identify the tools (IT, institutional) required to efficiently do so.

Ambassador Štefanek stated that national domestic legislation and courts systems should not use the European Court for Human Rights for instance but to use them as subsidiary organ to the system. This is not related only to Bosnia and Herzegovina, or to Western Balkans, but to all 47 states members of the Council of Europe.

Mr Zdravko Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed his hope that the Conference will assist to other judges and will give additional perspective to domestic legal practice and obligations of public authorities related to their everyday work.

The major discussion points were focused on the topics of shared responsibility; applicable judicial tools on the European Convention on Human Rights; Human Rights identification and classification in judicial IT tools – ways forward; The role of case law departments in ensuring the coherent judicial application of the ECHR and Judicial dialogue for Human Rights Implementation.

The topic of the Conference is essential for the enlargement perspective and the future of BiH as an EU member state and especially for fulfilling the recommendations of the opinion of the European Commission focused on judiciary, rule of law and Human Rights,” stated Mr Krassimir Nikolov, Head of Political and Economic Section of the EU Delegation to BiH.


Regional conference: Shared responsibility in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights

The conference is organised by the Council of Europe and European Union, in co-operation with the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is organised in within the project: “Initiative for legal certainty in the Western Balkans” worth 300,000 EUR funded by the EU and co-funded by the Council of Europe, under the programme “Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey II“, but also as part of cooperation within the project Initiative for Legal Certainty and Efficient Judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina, worth 500,000 EUR funded Kingdom of Norway and the Action.

What is the Horizontal Facility II?

The European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey (Horizontal Facility II) 2019-2022 is a co-operation initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe for the Western Balkans and Turkey. It is one of the results of the Statement of Intent signed on 1 April 2014 by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in which both Organisations agreed to further strengthen their co-operation in key areas of joint interest.

The first phase of the programme included various Beneficiary-specific and regional initiatives and ran from 2016 to 2019. The second phase of the programme (worth €41 million between 2019 and 2022) keeps building on the results of the phase I and broadens the thematic areas to new topics crucial for the Western Balkans region and Turkey – freedom of expression and media.

The second phase of the programme covers Actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Turkey and the regional dimension of the programme is strengthened. The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism that provides legislative expertise and policy advice within the Council of Europe system remains an important part of the programme available to all Beneficiaries.


How long will the Horizontal Facility II last?

The Horizontal Facility is a three-year programme, which is being implemented by the Council of Europe from May 2019 over a period of 36 months. 


How much will the Horizontal Facility II cost?

The envelope of this facility amounts to ca. 41 Million EUR (85% funded by the EU, 15% by the CoE).


What will the Horizontal Facility II do?

The Horizontal Facility enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, including where relevant within the framework of the EU enlargement process. The Horizontal Facility relies on the Council of Europe’s unique working methods, whereby tailor-made technical co-operation activities are based on conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the Beneficiaries to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.

Themes covered by the Horizontal Facility include:

  • Ensuring justice;
  • Fighting economic crime;
  • Combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups (including LGBTI, minorities and Roma) and
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

All the themes are key priorities of the two Organisations in the Western Balkans region and Turkey.

All Horizontal Facility actions address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresees the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Horizontal Facility.

This website has been produced using funds of a Joint Project between the European Union and the Council of Europe. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union or the Council of Europe.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.