Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
The Centre is an independent academic institution monitoring human rights developments both domestically and worldwide, issuing a monthly Bulletin, as well as organizing conferences.
With the rising intensity of environmental difficulties ecocide has achieved more widespread recognition and broader awareness. The UN Human Rights Council’s recognition of the right to a healthy environment as a human right in October 2021 constitutes a breakthrough in environmental law understanding. It is no surprise that the world is currently witnessing renewed efforts to legally protect the environment and prosecute those responsible. One of these efforts is to legally recognize and criminalize ecocide. What is ecocide, how does it impact the world today, and what can be done about it?
The 27th UN Conference on Climate Change, also known as COP27, took place in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conferences have been held annually since the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. This time, the Czech Republic had the position of a country negotiating on behalf of the entire European Union, as it holds the presidency of the Council of the EU. The conference had high expectations, but not all of them were fulfilled.
In September 2022, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Lipavský, addressed the UN Security Council as the first Czech in almost thirty years. In his speech, he strongly condemned Russian aggression against a sovereign state, expressed dismay at the crimes committed, mentioned the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and called on the international community to establish a special tribunal for the crime of aggression. The establishment of such a tribunal is supported and called for by other international actors. What are the current prospects for its creation? And are there other mechanisms to pursue justice?
In a recent dispute between parents and a hospital over the continuation of their son’s life-sustaining treatment, the British courts ruled that ending the treatment was in the child’s best interests. In all cases involving children, the best interests of the child must be the primary consideration. However, can such best interests include the termination of life-sustaining treatment and the subsequent death of the child? According to the European Court of Human Rights, Member States should enjoy a wide margin of appreciation in this field.
The Supreme Court of the United States has recently overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade judgment protecting the right to abortion on a federal level. The final decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has created an uproar and resulted in international protests and media attention from both sides of the spectrum. While some are celebrating the salvation of the lives of unborn babies, others are mourning the lives yet to be lost. The lives of pregnant people from various backgrounds who might die as a result of unwanted pregnancy or an illegal unsafe abortion.
The issue of climate change resonates in all areas of human life, and the legal world is no different. Although climate litigation is not a novelty, it is within the last three years that it has become an issue for the highest European courts to address - i.e., the issue of a human rights approach to environmental litigation. What are the current trends in this area?
At the end of March, President von der Leyen and President Biden announced a new deal on data transfers between the EU and the U.S. The announcement comes less than two years after Privacy Shield, the successor of the Safe Harbor agreement, was struck down by the Court of Justice of the European Union for its insufficient safeguards in regard to data protection.