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In this issue: SIM's 40th anniversary events, research, teaching and training   Read online
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Newsletter Summer 2021, Issue 26
As Summer crawls closer on the Northern hemisphere and in some parts of the world people are slowly climbing out of Covid-19's clutches, we try to cautiously look forward. In spite of all restrictions, teaching, research and many other activities have continued - in close and good cooperation with many colleagues at Utrecht Law School. This includes our 40th anniversary event series which will culminate in the keynote speech by the UN's High Commissioner on Human Rights in October of this year. Please find an overivew of this and much more of our activities in our newest Newsletter!

Best wishes on behalf of the whole team at SIM at Utrecht University Law School,

Antoine Buyse, director
40 Years SIM Anniversary Events
SIM Peter Baehr lecture 2021

We are greatly honoured to announce that on 2 October 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will deliver this year's SIM Peter Baehr lecture. The lecture, which the Commissisioner will deliver in a livestream from Geneva, will also form the keynote lecture of SIM's anniversary conference that day.
SIM 40th Anniversary Conference

As the highlight of our series of events celebrating our 40th anniversary this year, we are organizing, also on Saturday 2 October, an anniversary conference entitled 'Life Begins at Forty: Human Rights for the Future'on Saturday 2 October 2021'. It will include panels on 'Developing Human Rights Responses to Increasing Inequality', 'Societal Change Through and Within Human Rights Institutions: What Does it Take?' and one featuring SIM alumni. More information regarding registration and programme will follow later this year.
Refugee Protection across the Globe

On 21 June, International Refugee Day, the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE), the Netherlands Institute of Human Right (SIM) and the Centre for Global Challenges, in cooperation with the Universities of Carthage (Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences) and VIT-AP Law School have organized an event. In an attempt to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, experts and practitioners from different world regions convene online to reflect on the global challenges to the refugee protection regime and to shed some light on migratory crises beyond Europe.
Please register your participation as soon as possible by sending an email to
Book Launch

Join Julie Fraser June 24th to celebrate the launch of her book. Julie's book examines the traditional State-centric and legalistic approach to implementation, critiquing its limited efficacy in practice and failure to connect with local cultures. The book therefore explores the permissibility of other measures of implementation, and advocates more culturally sensitive approaches involving social institutions. Through an interdisciplinary case study of Islam in Indonesia, the book demonstrates the power of social institutions like religion to promote rights compliant positions and behaviours. The book launch will consist of a panel by Dr Stacey Links, Prof Alison Renteln, Prof Ann Skelton and Julie herself.
Virtual Panel Presentation
On 23 September, from 20:00 to 21:30, there will be a virtual panel presentation on the forthcoming book Emancipatory Human Rights and Higher Education. The panel presentation will be led by editors Felisa Tibbitts (Chair in Human Rights Education and UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Higher Education, SIM, Utrecht University) and Dr. André Keet (Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Transformation, Nelson Mandela University). Register here.
Global Academic Freedom Conference

As part of our 40th anniversary event series, SIM co-organised with the NGO Aula Abierta and its director David Gomez Gamboa and a range of other academic and institutional partners, a global online conference on Academic Freedom, on 25 and 26 May. Conducted in English and Spanish, with speakers from across the globe, but especially from the Americas and Europe, the event provided a forum for first-hand testimony by academics under severe pressure, from Cuba to Turkey. It also included contributions from special rapporteurs at the UN and the Inter-American human rights system. For SIM, this builds on our involvement with the issue ever since the 2016 Utrecht Declaration on Academic Freedom as well as our ongoing participation in the Shelter City programme, which regularly includes hosting academics who are under pressure.
Conference on ECHR

On 27 May 2021, Kushtrim Istrefi, Claire Loven and Luca Pasquet organised a conference ‘The European Convention on Human Rights: Beyond a Treaty’. The conference explored the ECHR, beyond its formal character, as an inspirational and aspirational source of human rights. The conference speakers and chairs included Judge Ineta Ziemele from the Court of Justice of the EU, Antoine Buyse, Janneke Gerards, Catherine van de Heyning, Ingrid Leijten, Rick Lawson, Claire Loven, Luca Pasquet and Kushtrim Istrefi. Conference papers will be featured in a special issue with the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review. The conference was organised on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of SIM, and was supported by the Netherlands Network of Human Rights Research, Ucall and Montaigne.
SIM Impact
Brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

On April 22, Lorena Sosa presented a brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The brief was based on the written opinion that she wrote with colleagues Marjolein van den BrinkPauline Jacobs (SIM fellow) and Mina Burnside in response to the Court’s call for input for their elaboration of an Advisory Opinion on the obligations of states regarding the imprisonment of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, including the LGBTI collective.
Dutch Trans Act

On May 4, 2021, the Dutch government introduced a Bill to change the Dutch Trans Act, in order to relax the requirements to change legal gender markers, and to further simpligy the procedure. The Bill follows up on research of SIM / UCERF researcher Marjolein van den Brink, carried out together with (then) junior researcher Danielle Snaathorst (currently working for Everaert Advocaten). Van den Brink and Snaathorst evaluated the Dutch Trans Act in December 2017, at the request of the Minister of Justice.
Appeals Judgment in Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda before the International Criminal Court

In the case of Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda, Brianne McGonigle Leyh and Julie Fraser contributed to an Amicus Curiae Observation filed by Public International Law & Policy Group in September 2020. The submission addresses the meaning of ‘attacks’ under Article 8(2)(e)(iv) of the Rome Statute, and was later cited multiple times in the Appeals Judgment, ICC-01/04-02/06-2666-Red issued on 30 March 2021.
Young Environmental Defenders

Children and teenagers are stepping up to protect planet Earth through protest marches and sit ins, but what are the human rights that protect them? Antoine Buyse, with fellow members of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Council of Europe, published a brief on Young Environmental Defenders and the Standards that Protect Their Activism. He also co-organised an online event in May to launch the brief, at which the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights as well as several young activists presented.
SIM Research
Violence against Women

On June 25th, Lorena Sosa will be presenting the preliminary results of the report on ‘Criminalisation of gender-based violence against women in European States, including ICT-facilitated violence’ in the Webinar Series on Violence Against Women organized by the Berkeley Center of Comparative Equality and Anti-discrimination Law and Utrecht University. The report, co-authored with Sara de Vido, provides a comparative overview of the legislation addressing different forms of gender-based violence in European States.
Legal Identity Task Force

On 15th April 2021, Katharine Fortin was invited to present her research on legal identity in non-international armed conflicts to the United Nations Task Force on Legal Identity. The UN Task Force is made up of seventeen United Nations agencies that are working on Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 which states that by 2030 there should be ‘legal identity for all, including birth registrations’. The presentation was based on her recent article in the Human Rights Quarterly ‘To Be Or Not to Be? Legal Identity in Crisis in Non-International Armed Conflicts’.
Invited Paper and Webinar

Felisa Tibbitts was invited by UNESCO IESALC to submit a written contribution to The Futures of Higher Education Project and to present at an expert workshop that took place virtually on 5 March, and engaged academics from a range of continents. Felisa’s paper “Human Rights and Diverse Societies in Higher Education” built on writing she carried out at SIM in 2019 and highlighted the need for human rights education for all members of the university community.
Special Issue in Policing

In the fall of 2018, Brianne McGonigle Leyh helped organize a workshop that brought together several experts from various disciplines to exchange their expertise on policing. This resulted in a special issue on transformative policing reform, providing academic insights and cases from around the globe: France, Kenya, South Africa, the South Pacific, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. Brianne’s article, ‘A New Frame? Transforming Policing through Guarantees of Non-Repetition’, is available open access.
Gender Equality and the Istanbul Convention

On 11 May, Alexandra Timmer spoke at the high-level Gender Equality and the Istanbul Convention – a decade of action conference organised by the Gender Equality Division and the Violence against Women Division of the Council of Europe, in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in the framework of the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The recording of the conference is now available on the conference website. Alexandra spoke a panel on combating gender stereotypes and sexism: tackling the roots of gender inequality and violence against women.
Justice and Accountability for Rohingya

On 1 June, Brianne McGonigle Leyh, together with Prof. Cedric Ryngaert, helped to organize an event with the Centre for Global Challenges and the Institute for Peace of North South University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The purpose of the webinar was to assess the response from the international community to try to stop ongoing and future violations of international law, to hold Myanmar accountable for past violations of international law, and to ensure the Rohingya receive justice. Speakers included Ambassador Laetitia van den Assum, Yasmin Ullah, Vincent de Graaf of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Sahidul Haque, and Prof. Payam Akhavan.
EU-Chile Dialogue

On May 12, 2021, Marjolein van den Brink was invited to participate in an EU – Chile dialogue that is currently running. The dialogue is organised by EUROsociAL+, a cooperation program between Latin America and the EU, which seeks to contribute to the improvement of social cohesion and institutional strengthening in Latin American countries. The EU-webinar series with Chile focuses on the drafting process of a new constitution for Chile. The session on 12 May focused on the question how to gender citizenship and ensure gender sensitivity in constitution drafting processes. The session was opened by Chilean parliamentarian Maite Orsini and chaired by Yianina Welp (Zürich University). The other contributors were Jane Suiter (Dublin City University), Alejandra Sepulveda (executive director of ComunidadMujer) and Veronica Undurraga (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez).
Women in Terrorist Organisations

On 22nd April 2021, Katharine Fortin was invited to take part in a panel on the ‘Role of Women in Terrorist Organisations’ organized by the Greater Middle East Platform, WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform and Human Security Collective. The aim of the session was to assess with academics, CSOs and policy makers how to engage with women who joined terrorist organizations. The panel consisted of the Dutch Special Representative on Countering Terrorism, Mr Huib Mijnarends, Ms Azadeh Moaveni, Gender Project Director at International Crisis Group, Ms Letta Tayler, Associate Director in the Crisis and Conflict Division at Human Rights Watch, Ms Elanie Rodermond, Assistant Professor Criminology Vrije Universiteit and Ms Cynthia de Ligt, Program Manager Detention and Reintegration of Extremists and Terrorists, Ministry of Justice and Security.
LGBTI Research Network

On June 15, Marjolein van den Brink, Pauline Jacobs and Lorena Sosa have discussed the written observation on human rights considerations regarding transgender persons in detention they submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Symposium of the Flemish-Dutch LGBTI Research Network. This Network, which congregates academics, practitioners, and civil society, offers a perfect environment to critically discuss their findings and propositions in detail.
Blog Symposium AGIL

Between 24-28th May, the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog (AGIL) organized a joint blog symposium with the Opinio Juris blog on Giovanni Mantilla’s new book 'Lawmaking Under Pressure'. The book tells the story of the legal regulation of non-international armed conflicts and won this year's Lieber Prize. The joint book symposium gathered a host of wonderful scholars to provide their thoughts and reflections on Mantilla’s fascinating research.
Webinar Islamic and International Law

Julie Fraser hosted a roundtable expert panel on 17 May 2021 on Islamic and International Law in Times of Crimes and Conflict. Almost 100 participants joined the roundtable, which explored topics including Islamic concepts of dispute resolution, comparative analysis of Islamic and international laws of war, and the relevance of Islamic law for international institutions like the ICRC and ICC. The panellists were: Prof. Mohamed Elewa Badar, Northumbria Law School, UK; Dr. Ahmed Al-Dawoody, International Committee of the Red Cross; Dr. Fajri Matahati Muhammadin, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia; Dr. Emilia Justyna Powell, University of Notre Dame, US.
The X factor: Questioning the Legitimacy of Gender Registration

At the annual SLSA conference on 31 March 2021, organised online by Cardiff Law School, Marjolein van den Brink and Christine Quinan (Gender Studies, Utrecht) presented a paper in a workshop on government registration practices. The paper, entitled “The X factor: Questioning the legitimacy of gender registration”, forms a part of their ongoing interdisciplinary project on gender identity and human rights (GIRARE). Marjolein discussed the legal and human rights background of the world wide discussions on a ‘third box’, in light of the experiences of stakeholders, as recorded by Quinan during her research into ‘travelling with an X’.
Podcast on Autonomous Weapons

In April 2021, Katharine Fortin took part in a podcast with the Jason Institute on Autonomous Weapons: the Intricacies of Armed Drones. The podcast was a conversation between Uditi Saha from the Jason Institute, Katharine Fortin and Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Bolder. The podcast discussion covered the ethical and legal considerations that arise when armed actors use armed unmanned aerial vehicles, with a specific focus on the legality of the assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq.
Community Engaged Learning

On 27 May, students from the legal clinic of the LLM in Public International Law, together with their supervisor Brianne McGonigle Leyh, organized an impact event with other groups taking part in community engaged learning projects across the university on the themes of conflict and security. Societal partners such as the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), Airwars, and PAX for Peace took part in the event, sharing lessons learned from their work around documentation and accountability.
Council of Europe and NHRIs

On 26 April, Antoine Buyse spoke on behalf of the Conference of international NGOs at the Council of Europe’s High-Level Meeting on the newly adopted recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on the development and strengthening of effective, pluralist and independent national human rights institutions. Antoine had participated on behalf of civil society and in close cooperation with the European Network of NHRIs (ENNHRI) in the negotiations leading to the text.
Webinar ICC Conviction Ongwen

On 24 March 2021, Julie Fraser along with Milena Sterio of PILPG hosted an expert roundtable on the ICC’s recent conviction of Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Hundreds of participants from around the world joined the webinar to hear reflections on the case by experts Adina-Loredana Nistor, Dov Jacobs, Grace Acan, Kjell Anderson, and Sarah Kasande. More information and a recording of the event is here.
Transformative Policing Seminar Series

On 20 April, Brianne McGonigle Leyh, as part of the Transformative Policing Research Group, helped kick off its seminar series. This seminar series focuses on contemporary trends in policing. These trends touch upon contemporary conceptual debates and pressing societal matters. The first seminar included a talk by Alex S. Vitale and response by Veronika Nagy. Alex S. Vitale is Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. His recent book The End of Policing explores the radical expansion of the scope and intensity of US policing over the last 40 years and lays out a variety of non-punitive alternatives for enhancing public safety. On 19 May, we welcomed Catherine Besteman for the second seminar, with a response by Ajay Bailey. Catherine Besteman teaches anthropology at Colby College in the US. Her most recent book is ‘Militarized Global Apartheid’. The final seminar will take place on 8 June with Kevin Hearty and a response by Iva Vukusic. Kevin Hearty is a Research fellow at the School of Law, Queen’s University in Belfast and he will focus on memory politics and security in Northern Ireland.
Panel Conversation on Sex Registration

One of the UU events on international women’s day (8 March) was a panel conversation on the ‘sense and nonsense of sex registration’. SIM researcher Marjolein van den Brink was one of two speakers. Tessa de Vries (Studium Generale) moderated the panel that followed, in which also prof. Berteke Waaldijk (history and gender studies) and Hannah van Wikselaar (Master student Gender studies) participated. One of the topics of the discussion was the registration practices of the UU. Hannah van Wikselaar shared preliminary results of her research on the experiences of UU students with, and their views on the university’s registration practices. The researchers advocated a university reporting point that may help map out where and for which purposes sex is registered as well as the possibilities for individual students and staff to change their personal data. Is it possible to prevent that data that are collected because of a legal obligation are linked to other, unconnected data? What can an organisation do for people who do not feel at home in the categories used to statistically support diversity policies? The panel conversation can be watched here (in Dutch).
Sevilla Network

On May 7 2021, the Sevilla-led Network on sexed citizenship and non-binary identities held the conference Trans and non-binary identities: current comparative debates, which aimed at informing the Spanish debate on the legislative proposal to relax the conditions for legal gender recognition. Among the speakers at the conference was Marjolein van den Brink, who discussed the Dutch legal landscape, with particular attention for the recent small wave of judicial decisions ordering the Dutch state to change applicants’ gender markers from male or female in ‘indecisive’. Caroline Hansen, a student of the European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA), critically discussed the ECHR’s case law, highlighting the ambiguous role of gender stereotypes, which the Court highlights in cases of cisgender women’s (and men’s) discrimination but seems to be quietly endorsed when dealing with transgender identity complaints.
Blog Symposium on ICC Ongwen Case

From 12-16 April, the blog Armed Groups and International Law, run by Katharine Fortin, hosted a blog symposium on the conviction and sentencing of Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court. Dominic Ongwen, a former leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army in the DRC, had been convicted of 61 of the 70 crimes he was charged with, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. The case captivated the attention of Court watchers and bloggers in large part because of his own abduction as a child into the armed group. Put together and introduced by SIM’s Julie Fraser, the blog symposium included substantive contributions by Brianne McGonigle Leyh and Wayne Miller, Milena Sterio, Adina-Loredana Nistor, and Kjell Anderson. The blog symposium was timed to coincide with the sentencing hearings before the court.
SIM Teaching and Training
Children’s Lecture

On 5 May, the day the Netherlands celebrates its liberation from the Nazi regime in 1945, all Dutch major cities organize liberation festivals. At the Utrecht one, which was livestreamed online from the city’s biggest concert hall Tivoli Vredenburg, Antoine Buyse delivered an interactive lecture on behalf of Utrecht University for children, entitled ‘Freedoms in the Balance’, on how human rights need to be weighed against each other, for example in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Educational Innovation

Felisa Tibbitts was invited to lead a session on educational innovation and global citizenship education at UNESCO’s Global Online Meeting for the Association of Schools of Peace network. Her presentation highlighted Serdyukov’s dimensions of educational innovation, including pedagogical, technical, relational, cultural, philosophical and policy-oriented. The webinar was part of a UNESCO teacher educator initiative that will continue through 2021.
Latin American Constitutions

On May 18, Javier Couso made the presentation "Socio-Economic Rights and Constitution-Making in Latin America", at an international webinar organized by the Center for International and Comparative Law (University of Virginia Law School, USA) and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (a New York-based civil society organization that works extensively on human rights and tax justice issues in Latin America). The webinar focused on the financial aspects of Latin American Constitutions and reflected on how to move towards constitutional pacts that are more conducive to progressive tax reforms.
Legal Pluralism

Julie Fraser was invited to speak at the International Law Section of the UK Society of Legal Scholars on 28 May 2021 hosted by Alex Guilder. Her presentation was entitled: Legal Pluralism, Voluntary Compliance, and Universal International Law. Julie spoke about the potential for locally embedded norms and institutions to facilitate the implementation of international law, including human rights. Aside from pragmatic benefits, incorporating local norms in the human rights dialogue also promotes the universality of international law. The talk was based upon her monograph published last year with Cambridge University Press.
Workshop on Legal Identity in Contested Territory
On 8th June 2021, Katharine Fortin co-organised an interdisciplinary scholar/ practitioner workshop on Legal Identity in Contested Territory with colleagues Bart Klem (Gothenburg University), Marika Sosnowski (GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies) and Sara Meger (Melbourne University). The workshop was made up of three panels. The first panel discussed the ramifications of legal identity being created by sovereign aspirants. The second panel examined the definition of ‘legal identity’ which has been developed by the UN Task Force on Legal Identity and discussed how legal identity is protected and secured in situations of armed conflict. The third panel examined how ‘legal identity’ issues are playing out during the pandemic, with a specific focus on the conflict in Syria. The workshop was attended by nineteen scholars and humanitarian practitioners working in situations of armed conflict.
Guest Lecture Boğaziçi University

On 20 May, Brianne McGonigle Leyh gave a guest lecture for political science and international relations students at Boğaziçi University, where SIM alumna, Dr. Fleur van Leeuwen, now works. Brianne thoroughly enjoyed engaging with students from outside of law on issues of international law and global justice, and at least one of the students will be joining in SIM’s 2021 Summer School!
Workshop on International Law

On 30th April 2021, Katharine Fortin was invited to act as a discussant in the Society of Legal Scholars’ PhD Workshop on International Law. Speakers on the panel were Michael Lane (Birmingham City University), Gillian Kane (Queen’s University Belfast), David Matyas (University of Cambridge), Sinéad Coakley (University of Liverpool) and Liam Bagshaw (University of Reading).
Meet the Professor

In March, at the occasion of its anniversary, Utrecht University organised its annual Meet the Professor event. In ordinary times, professors of the university go and teach at the city’s primary schools. This year, the event was conducted entirely online. Antoine Buyse discussed human rights with the very curious 11- and 12-year-olds of primary school the Panda.
Training Femicide

Last February, Lorena Sosa gave an online training on “Femicide in the Interamerican System: towards an effective criminal investigation” as part of a course destined for members of the judiciary in Honduras and funded by UN Women. The course, organized by the Latin-American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), addressed access to justice of women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Law as Culture

Julie Fraser was invited to speak at the Centre of History and Anthropology of Law, University of Paris Nanterre (CHAD) on 25 May 2021 hosted by Joshua Bishay. Julie’s presentation was entitled: Law as Culture. The Importance of Cultural Competences in Implementinting International Law, and examined the need for more cultural expertise in international (quasi)judicial fora. The talk was based upon her monograph published last year with Cambridge University Press and co-edited volume with Brianne McGonigle Leyh on the International Criminal Court.
Keynote disadvantaged populations in Chile

On May 12, Javier Couso was the keynote speaker at a webinar organized by a coalition of Chile's main organizations of civil society working on poverty and the rights of migrants (such as the Jesuit Service to Migrants; the Mandela Space; the Hogar de Cristo and Techo-Chile). The lecture focused on proposals to improve the well-being of excluded and disadvantaged populations in Chile, with an emphasis on the role of civil society organizations in reducing poverty and promoting social inclusion.
Transitional justice

On 28 April, Brianne McGonigle Leyh gave a guest lecture to students and staff at Kennesaw State University’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Kennesaw State University is located just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, where Brianne was born and raised. She discussed the benefits of a transitional justice frame to the current turmoil facing minorities in the US, and the need for greater accountability, truth-telling, reparations, and reform.
Lecture War Crimes

On 2nd June 2021, Katharine Fortin gave a guest lecture on ‘war crimes’ to students from the Washington College of Law for the 15th Annual Summer Law Programme on International Criminal Law and International Legal & Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism. This online course is the product of a collaboration between the War Crimes Research Office of American University’s Washington College of Law and the T.M.C. Asser Institute.
Other News

In April, Antoine Buyse was interviewed for Euronews television on the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in Vavřička and Others v. the Czech Republic. The case revolved around mandatory vaccination, highly relevant in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Parliamentary Commission

In May 2021, Barbara Oomen advised the parliamentary commission put in place by the Dutch Senate to consider the effectiveness of anti-discrimination legislation in the Netherlands. A video of the hearing (in Dutch) is on Youtube.
Expert Opinion on Murder of Journalists

On 17-18 May, Kushtrim Istrefi was hired to review an indictment in relation to a few complex cases concerning the murder of journalists. The indictment will be brought before a People's Tribunal later this year. Kushtrim provided his legal expertise on issues pertaining to substantive protection and procedural obligations under the right to life, prohibition of torture, the right to freedom of expression and the right to an effective remedy.
Grant for Children's Rights

Javier Couso, as a senior member of an international team put together by the Ibero American Center for Children's Rights (CIDENI), got a grant from the O'Neill Institute of Georgetown University (USA) to carry out a research initiative aimed at addressing the rights of children in Chile's new Constitution. The project, which includes scholars from Colombia, United States and Chile, will start in July 2021, and finish in early 2022.
Political Campaign Dutch Parliament

In March, professor Barbara Oomen ran for a position in Dutch parliament. In her campaign, she emphasized the importance of strengthening the rule of law and human rights. She organized a wide range of digital session on themes as the inclusion of persons with disabilities, access to justice, the right to housing, refugees, women’s rights, climate justice and municipal finances. In the end, she was not elected: the Social Democrats obtained 9 seats in parliament and Barbara Oomen was 20th on the ballot list. She did receive many preferential votes, and would like to thank all colleagues who supported her in this edifying experience!
Praemium Erasmianum Foundation

SIM director Antoine Buyse has been appointed as a board member of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. The Foundation annually awards the Erasmus Prize to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts, in Europe and beyond. The award emphasizes the importance of tolerance, cultural pluriformity and non-dogmatic critical thinking and has been given in the past to, amongst others, Charlie Chaplin, Wikipedia, and Marc Chagall. The Foundation also awards Erasmus dissertation prizes for the 5 best PhD theses in the fields of the humanities, law and social sciences.
UU Participated in the Final Round of EHRMCC

This year, Utrecht University participated for the first time in the European Human Rights Moot Court Competition (EHRMCC). The team was composed of PIL LLM students Charlotte Hahn, Melina Riemer, Matilda Rados and Wietske Merison, and was coached by Kushtrim Istrefi. Following a successful completion of the regional round, on 18 and 19 May they pleaded in the final round of the competition. This was an excellent opportunity to coach students in connection to proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights.
Symposium on the new Protocol 15 of ECHR

From 14 to 18 June, Antoine Buyse and Kushtrim Istrefi hosted a symposium on ‘Protocol 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights’ in their ECHR Blog. The symposium explored the impact of the new protocol on the Court, individuals and other actors of the Convention system. The symposium started with a kickoff by Antoine and Kushtrim, and featured four excellent contributions by Janneke Gerards, Lize Glas, Başak Çalı and Philip Leach.
Grant Proposal Human Rights Adherence Carabineros
Javier Couso led an inter-disciplinary research team of various Chilean universities that submitted a grant proposal to Chile’s Ministry of Science, aimed at studying the adherence to human rights standards by Chile’s National Police (‘Carabineros’). The project, which includes a collaboration with Utrecht University’s Transformative Policing Research Group, aims at identifying the factors behind the legitimacy crisis that Carabineros has experienced in the wake of the serious human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the social uprising of late 2019. The project, labelled “Millennium Nucleus on Police and Society”, will be the first large-scale academic project in Chile to address the legitimacy and adherence to human rights standards by Carabineros, and will combine legal, socio-legal, and psychosocial approaches.
The Good Lobby Profs

Antoine Buyse is part of the newly founded network 'The Good Lobby Profs', a rapid response mechanism to uphold the rule of law across the continent. The group of more than 60 academics aims inter alia to provide ‘rapid response’ opinions on ongoing and evolving legal issues; collectivise individual actions; offer pro bono guidance and support to academics, lawyers or judges subject to state-sponsored harassment for defending the rule of law/our common values as well as NGOs working in this space; write to relevant bodies to draw their attention to individual cases and/or the situation in specific countries; quickly debunk legal nonsense spread by authoritarian regimes and connected bodies by inter alia replying to time-sensitive media requests and queries.
Over 2000 Podcast Downloads!

Together with Dr. Tessa Diphoorn from cultural anthropology, Brianne McGonigle Leyh has finished recording all 10 episodes of Season 1 of the podcast Travelling Concepts on Air. The podcast explores the promise and ideal of interdisciplinarity, focusing on the idea of travelling concepts. Travelling concepts refers to concepts that ‘travel’ across disciplines and often act as the focal point for interdisciplinary efforts. Concepts that we tackled in Season 1 included: war, sustainability, time, civil society, heritage, agency, legitimacy, transformation, and diplomacy. A big thank you to the SIM researchers who took part: Katharine Fortin, Antoine Buyse, and Julie Fraser! We are already gearing up for Season 2, which will start again in September 2021, with all new concepts.
Guest Lecture by Judge Mārtiņš Mits

On 5 March, Kushtrim Istrefi organised a guest lecture on Derogations from the ECHR. The lecture was delivered by Judge Mārtiņš Mits from the European Court of Human Rights in the context of Kushtrim’s capita selecta ECHR, Peace and Security.
Inaugural Lecture

On 27 May, Salvatore Nicolosi, who is a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, gave his inaugural Lecture at the University of Teramo. There, he will be Visiting Professor of International and European Refugee Law until 2022.
New Staff Joining SIM
Dr Róisín Burke
Dr Róisín Burke is joining Utrecht University as an Assistant Professor of Public International Law. Róisín’s work, publications and teaching have cut across the areas of international criminal law, international humanitarian law, human rights law, peace operations, and public international law. Róisín is currently collaborating with the University of Tokyo on a project related to African Union (AU) regulatory frameworks. Most recently she has published on legal pluralism, rule of law programming and gender justice in Somalia, and on the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial dispute. She has worked as a consultant on projects related to gender, human rights, IHL, and peace-building with NGOs, and international and regional bodies. Previously she was a Senior Law Lecturer at the University of Canterbury, and worked as Political Advisor to the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN. She completed a Ph.D at the University of Melbourne (2012), on sexual exploitation and abuse by UN military contingents, published by Brill.
Dr Jérôme de Hemptinne
Dr Jérôme de Hemptinne is lecturer with SIM at Utrecht University and a visiting lecturer at the University of Louvain, the Catholic University of Lille, the Institut d’études politiques (Paris), and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Previously he worked at the ICTY, the UN Legal Counsel in New York and at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Jérôme is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of International Criminal Justice. His Phd on the changing nature of armed conflicts was published with Pedone (Paris) in 2019. He recently coedited Modes of Liability in International Criminal Law (published with CUP in 2019), and Animals in International Law of Armed Conflict (to be published with CUP in 2021). He is currently engaged in a research project related to the protection of the environment in armed conflicts in light of recent developments in international environment law financed by the Belgian national scientific fund (FNRS).
Birte Böök, Susanne Burri, Linda Senden & Alexandra Timmer (2021). A comparative analysis of gender equality law in Europe 2020: A comparative analysis of the implementation of EU gender equality law in the EU Member States, Albania, North Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey. Publications Office of the European Union.
Book chapters
Barbara Oomen, Moritz Baumgartel and Elif Durmus (2021). 'Accelerating Cities, Constitutional Brakes? Local Authorities Between Global Challenges and Domestic Law' in E. Hirsch Ballin, G. Van der Schyff, M. Stremler and M. De Visser (Eds), European Yearbook of Constitutional Law 2020: The City in Constitutional Law (Asser Press), pp. 247-270
Alexandra Timmer & Lucia van der Meulen (2021). 'Feminisme in de Raad van Europa: een Analyse van de Aanbeveling over het Voorkomen en Bestrijden van Seksisme' in Eva Brems, Pieter Cannoot & Liesbet Stevens (Eds.), Recht en Gender in België: 10 Jaar Later (Die Keure), pp. 185-205  
Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
March 2021 issue
  • Lorena Sosa, Beyond gender equality? Anti-gender campaigns and the erosion of human rights and democracy
  • Cathérine Van de Graaf, Procedural fairness: Between human rights law and social psychology
  • Colin Luoma, Closing the cultural rights gap in transitional justice: Developments from Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
  • Matthias Petel and Norman Vander Putten, Economic, social and cultural rights and their dependence on the economic growth paradigm: Evidence from the ICESCR system
  • Recent publications on international human rights law
June 2021: special issue: Understanding Governmental Human Rights Focal Points
  • Sébastien Lorion and Stéphanie Lagoutte, What are governmental human rights focal points?
  • Sébastien Lorion, Inside the Human Rights Ministry of Burkina Faso: How professionalised civil servants shape governmental human rights focal points
  • Colin Caughey, Government human rights focal points: Lessons learned from focal points under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Matthieu Niederhauser, Governmental human rights focal points in federal contexts: The implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Switzerland as a case study
  • Martin Mennecke, Never again? The role of the global network of R2P focal points in preventing atrocity crimes
  • Recent publications in international human rights law
Fortin, K. (2021) ‘To Be Or Not to Be? Legal Identity in Crisis in Non-International Armed Conflicts’, Human Rights Quarterly, 41(1), pp. 29-69
Sosa, L. and Pizarrosa, B. (2021) 'Abortion Laws: the Polish symptom of a European malady?', Ars Aequi, 70(6), pp. 587-595.
Blog posts
Kushtrim Istrefi, Matilda Rados and Wietske Merison, ‘The Dutch Judicial Review of the Curfew: Normalised and Entrenched Emergencies’, Ucall blog, March 2021.
Katharine Fortin, 'A retelling of the history of internal conflicts: political fireworks, a post-script to the ‘dreaded article 1’ of API and an agenda for future research', Armed Groups and International Law Blog, May 2021.
Javier Couso, ‘Chile Elects its Constitution-Making Body: The Potential and Risks of a Fragmented Convention’, Constitutionnet Blog, May 2021.
Antoine Buyse, 'Could We Meet Online? Creative Protests During Covid-19', Human Rights Preparedness Blog, April 2021.
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