Research event

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe: Between the protection of human rights and the unity of the member states

A presentation by Esra Demir-Gürsel (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). This event is part of the Fundamental Rights Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

In the face of challenges stemming from the member states’ non-compliance with the core principles of the Council of Europe (CoE), the responses of the CoE institutions to such challenges have remained feeble and inconsistent. They seem to be caught between their promise to protect the rule of law, human rights and democracy and the foundational goal of the organization to achieve “a greater unity between its members.” In this presentation, I will address the now-former Secretary General of the CoE Thorbjørn Jagland’s responses to the member states’ systematic violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). By looking at the cases of Russia and Turkey, I will analyze his diplomatic responses to the systematic violations of the ECHR. I will discuss whether and in what ways his diplomatic interactions with Russia and Turkey and his policy preferences might have influenced the responses of other CoE institutions such as the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Court of Human Rights.

Esra Demir-Gürsel was a visiting postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität Berlin until September 2019. From January 2020, she will start to work as an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. After receiving her LL.M in Public Law from Istanbul University and MA in Human Rights from the University of Essex, she obtained her PhD in Public Law from Marmara University. Previously, she worked at the departments of Human Rights Law and Public Law at Marmara University in Istanbul. Her main research interests involve human rights law, the history of international law, gender, liberal legalism, and democracy. Her on-going research investigates into the limits of the ECtHR in responding to the entrenchment of authoritarian rule in Turkey.