CLEER WP 2011/1 - Rosas
Is the EU a Human Rights Organisation?
The first working paper of this year also constitutes the publication of the inaugural CLEER Public Lecture, delivered by Prof. Dr. Allan Rosas, Judge at the Court of Justice of the EU, on 17 March 2011 at the premises of the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague. Based on his notion of what constitutes a human rights organisation, Judge Rosas finds it fairly obvious that the question put in the title of this presentation should be answered in the negative. Rosas uses this negative answer as an introduction to a discussion on the status and role of fundamental rights and human rights in the activities of the EU more generally. In particular, he focuses on those specific features of the EU which distinguish it from a human rights organisation stricto sensu. While not providing an exhaustive exposé of all fundamental rights- and human rights-related activities of the Union, he stresses that these activities comprise a vast and diverse area, ranging from fundamental rights issues in the legislative and administrative activities of the EU political institutions and in the case law of the European Court of Justice, to human rights concerns in the treaty and other activities of the EU in its relations with third countries. Moreover, the obligation to respect fundamental rights as defined by the Union applies not only to the Union’s institutions in the strict sense but also to the Member States and their courts and authorities when they are acting within the scope of Union law. Rosas discusses the important developments that have taken place since the early days of European integration, when the focus was on economic integration and fundamental rights received scarce, if any, attention. In doing so, he also pays attention to the role of human rights in EU external relations, the accession procedure to the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the applicability of international humanitarian role to CSDP operations.