The Rule of Law under Pressure: Russia and the European Human Rights System

Keynote by Prof. Jeffrey Kahn

The Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights has catalyzed considerable, positive legal reform in Russia.  Although these reforms have been far from wholly successful, and membership in this system has not been uncontroversial, anyone who cares about human rights in Russia must care deeply about its continued inclusion in the European human rights system.  That relationship, however, has been under steadily increasing pressure.  Recent changes in Russian law give the Russian Constitutional Court a mediating role in assessing whether to comply with the Strasbourg Court’s judgments.  This tension between Strasbourg and Petersburg strains not only Russia’s relationship with Europe but the very foundations of the European human rights system itself.  Russia’s relationship with Strasbourg remains an indicator of Russia’s reception of the rule of law.

Venue: Sali 13, Main Building, 3rd floor, Fabianinkatu 33, University of Helsinki

Prof. Jeffrey Kahn is the Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow and the Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University. During the 2017-2018 academic year, he is also the Fulbright Research Scholar at the PluriCourts Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo.  He has written extensively on Russian legal issues, primarily concerning federalism, criminal procedure, and human rights.  In 2011, the Council of the President of the Russian Federation on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights invited him to contribute one of nine reports submitted to then President Medvedev on the second conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an experience he described in “In Putin’s Russia, Shooting the Messenger” (Feb. 25 2013) N.Y. Times.  He has published numerous articles on Russian law and legal reform in Post-Soviet Affairs, The Review of Central and East European Law and other journals and law reviews. Recent work in edited volumes includes “The Richelieu Effect: The Khodorkovsky Case and Political Interference with Justice” in Kurkchiyan and Kubal (eds.), Law and Justice in Russia (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), “The Law is a Causeway: Metaphor & the Rule of Law in Russia” in Silkenat et al. (eds.), The Legal Doctrines of the Rule of Law and the Legal State (Rechtsstaat) (Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law & Justice, Vol. 38, Springer 2014), “Adversarial Principles and the Case File in Russian Criminal Procedure” in Malfliet and Parmentier (eds.), Russia & the Council of Europe: Ten Years After (Palgrave Macmillan 2010), “The Rule-of-Law Factor” in Newton and Tompson (eds.), Institutions, Ideas and Leadership in Russian Politics (Palgrave Macmillan 2010). Email: