Logo of Eiuc

Academy Overview

Key Facts


Theme: Backlash against Human Rights?
Dates: Monday, 4 July - Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Application Deadline:  5 June 2016
Faculty: András Sajó (opening lecture), Robert McCorquodale (general course), Joseph A. Cannataci, Helen Fenwick, Mark Goodale, Geir Ulfstein
Participants: Academics, practitioners, PhD/JSD and master students
Type of courses: Lectures, seminars, discussion sessions and panel presentations
Number of hours: 34 hours
Venue: Monastery of San Nicolò, Venice - Lido, Italy


Backlash against Human Rights?

International and regional human rights systems have witnessed remarkably outspoken critiques that emphasise a movement back towards the nation State and national sovereignty. The European Court of Human Rights is occasionally openly criticised, if not attacked, for overstepping its competencies and intervening in national affairs. National supreme courts reassert their own status and authority. In addition, fundamental freedoms have been restricted in the name of security and greater national interests. We are also witnessing a new radicalisation of politics that sheds doubts both economically and socially on the viability of the European Union and on other regional integration projects.

The 2016 Venice Academy of Human Rights looks at these developments from an institutional, legal, political and interdisciplinary perspective. Lectures and seminars by the distinguished faculty focus on the expansion and resistance to human rights obligations, counter-terrorist laws and policies, restrictions of civil liberties, processes of exclusion and redistribution in society, and the legitimacy crisis of human rights courts.


Faculty and Programme

Distinguished Opening Lecture
András Sajó
, Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights


Distinguished Seminar
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria


General Course
Robert McCorquodale
, Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Dancing to the Human Rights Beat”

Developments in human rights in recent years have seen the expansion of obligations on states, the extension of human rights responsibilities to international organisations and corporations, and the application in situations of armed conflict. There have also been resistance to these advances by groups within and across states. This series of lectures will explore these types of advance and resistance, and the opportunities and dangers these may indicate for human rights protections.


Joseph A. Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, head of the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta and chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law at the University of Groningen

Lecture: "Back to basics: understanding privacy as part of a tripod of enabling fundamental rights"

Lecture: "The fallacy of privacy vs. security: proportionality values and realities"

Seminar: "Developing new methodologies for privacy research"


Helen Fenwick, Professor of Law at Durham University

Lecture: "Enhanced Subsidiarity and a Dialogic Approach – or Appeasement in recent cases on criminal justice, public order, counter-terrorism at Strasbourg against the UK?"

Lecture: "Same sex unions at the Strasbourg Court in a divided Europe: driving forward reform or protecting the Court’s authority via consensus analysis?"

Seminar: "Bearing in mind the issues covered in the lectures, and any other Strasbourg-related relevant issues the students would like to raise, would it be fair to say that a resurgence in national sovereignty is deterring the Court from pursuing its ‘living instrument’ approach on certain issues, including in particular sensitive social issues and issues of national security?"

Theme: the lectures and seminar will focus on the devices, including the margin of appreciation doctrine, influenced by consensus analysis, and the notion of dialogue with domestic courts, that the Strasbourg Court is increasingly under pressure to employ in order to avoid head-on clashes with member states in relation to especially sensitive issues. The focus will be in particular, in Western Europe, on the UK in the first lecture, but the Strasbourg approach to social issues, in the context of protection for same sex unions will be looked at in relation to a range of states in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The key question will be whether a resurgence in national sovereignty is deterring the Court from pursuing its ‘living instrument’ approach in relation to the issues covered.


Mark Goodale, Professor in Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Lausanne

Lecture: “Human Rights in a World of Exclusion”

Lecture: “Human Rights and the Politics of Redistribution”

Seminar: “The Death of Human Dignity?” (A seminar that will explore the possibility of a post-human rights world, alternatives, subjecting them to scrutiny to consider whether there are, in fact, any viable alternatives to human rights, despite the “backlash”)


Geir Ulfstein, Professor of International Law and Deputy Director of the Norwegian Centre of Excellence PluriCourts for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, University of Oslo

Lecture: "Reform of the European Court of Human Rights: Progress or Backlash?"

Lecture: "Reform of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies: Progress or Backlash?"

Seminar: "Regional and Global Human Rights Institutions: Progress or Backlash?"


A programme overview of the 2016 Venice Academy of Human Rights is available here.



  • 1320 EUR, including tuition, accommodation and breakfast from 3-13 July in a single room
  • 1050 EUR, including tuition, accommodation and breakfast from 3-13 July in a shared double room
  • 700 EUR, only tuition

The fee includes tuition, lunch on class days, refreshments and social events.


General Description

The Venice Academy of Human Rights is a centre of excellence for human rights education, research and debate. It forms part of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) which is an internationally leading institution for research and education. The  Venice Academy provides an enriching forum for emerging ideas, practices and policy options in human rights research, education and training. The Academy hosts distinguished experts to promote critical and useful research, innovation and exchange of current knowledge.

The Academy offers international and interdisciplinary thematic programmes open to academics, practitioners, Ph.D./J.S.D. and master students from all over the world who have an advanced knowledge of human rights. Participants attend morning lectures, participate in discussion sessions and workshops and can exchange views, ideas and arguments with leading international scholars and experts. This includes the opportunity for a number of participants to present and discuss their own “work in progress” such as drafts of articles, chapters of books or doctoral theses and receive comments from faculty members and peers.

At the end of the programme, participants receive a Certificate of Attendance issued by the Venice Academy of Human Rights.


© 2001 - 2016 EIUC - European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. CF 94054110278 P. IVA 03493180271.
EIUC Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  News  |  Global Campus  |  Frame  |  Alumni