Courts in Dialogue course at the ECtHR: Unique and invaluable experience in breath-taking Strasbourg
Professor András Sajó convened the Courts in Dialogue course for Human Rights and Comparative Constitutional Law students for the eighth time, between November 27 and 29, 2017. Students spent two days at the European Court of Human Rights. The program included a Grand Chamber hearing, classes by several judges of the Court as well as by staff lawyers from the Registry. The group was hosted by Judge Péter Paczolay.
This is how they recall their experience:
“The Courts in Dialogue course provided a first-hand experience of the inner working of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Participating in lectures with Judges and staff from the Court helped in gaining an understanding of the procedures that surround the individual complaints mechanism, as well as the current issues that face the Court today. The trip culminated in watching the Grand Chamber hearing of Ilnseher v. Germany, which was truly an invaluable experience in gaining an insight into the substantive arguments that arise from both the lawyers representing the applicant and the government, and the judges. This gave context to the various ECtHR judgements that we read throughout [the year at] the Human Rights Program, and has undoubtedly helped in subsequent classes I have taken at CEU.”
“Courts in Dialogue was a unique experience! When I first learned about this course, I had high hopes for it and I was not disappointed. Human rights theory meets practice in this course, but beyond that, we met the people whose names are written into the history of the European Court of Human Rights. This encounter with "people behind the judgments" was inspiring, intellectually stimulating, and also surprisingly moving. I am grateful to Professor Sajó and Professor Polgári for this unforgettable week.”
“Although I had an opportunity to visit European Court of Human Rights during my undergraduate studies when participating in a moot court competition, attending the Courts in Dialogue course was a completely different experience. This time I got to know “the heart of the Court”. The opportunity to freely discuss the Court’s strengths and weaknesses with judges and familiarize myself with the structure of the Court and its personnel gave me a direct insight into the work of the Court. It was indeed an amazing and valuable experience. Additionally, it was extremely useful and valuable to prepare with Professor Sajó for the Grand Chamber’s hearing. The post-hearing discussion put me into the judges’ shoes and made me realize how they address the complexity of issues raised by the case.”
“Courts in Dialogue was a distinguished and memorable course because of its content and for the experience it provides. It allowed us to look into the day to day work of the Strasbourg Court which goes beyond the classroom analysis of its case law. As a person interested in human rights law, I found working on the memorandum for an actual case and attending a Grand Chamber hearing particularly inspiring. Furthermore, discussions and lectures held by current and former judges of the ECtHR gave me a better understanding on how the Court deals with cases and what are the pressing issues it is currently facing. Apart from the academic benefits, course creates a wonderful opportunity to explore Strasbourg, socialize and feel the atmosphere surrounding ECtHR.”