Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Effective Protection of Fundamental Rights in a pluralist world

What opportunities and threats flow from the existence of institutional and normative diversity in the area of fundamental rights for the effective protection of those rights in a pluralist world?

Duration
2015  -   2021
Contact
Titia Loenen

The research programme Effective Protection of Fundamental Rights in a Pluralist World (EPFR) started in its current form in 2015. It builds on a strong tradition of inspiring and high quality human rights research at Leiden University and endeavors to further expand and strengthen this line of research. The programme is unique in the Netherlands by being the only self-standing research programme on fundamental rights at a Dutch Faculty of Law.

Research focus and themes

The EPFR programme explores the dynamics of institutional and normative diversity regarding fundamental rights protection against the backdrop of the socio-cultural, political, and economic pluralism that is a prominent feature of today’s world, both globally and locally. The programme focuses on the following topical and overlapping themes:

 

  • the interaction of European and national fundamental rights;
  • digital technologies and their interplay with fundamental rights;
  • children’s fundamental rights;
  • social and cultural diversity and fundamental rights;
  • and fundamental rights, development and rule of law .

The research group brings together a wide variety of disciplines. It is unique by being the only faculty research programme consisting of researchers from across institutes and departments of the faculty of law:

  • Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law;
  • Department for eLaw/Center for Law and Digital Technologies;
  • Department for Law, Governance and Society/Van Vollenhoven Institute (VVI);
  • Department of Child Law; 
  • Institute of Immigration Law;
  • Europa Institute;
  • Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology;
  • Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies.

The EPFR programme explores the dynamics of institutional and normative diversity regarding fundamental rights protection against the backdrop of the socio-cultural, political, and economic pluralism that is a prominent feature of today’s world, both globally and locally. As such it ties in with the university research profile area ‘Interaction between Legal Systems’. With institutional diversity we refer to the unprecedented increase and extension of the institutional settings within which fundamental rights issues are addressed. The number of specific human rights protection instruments and mechanisms at national, regional and global levels has increased significantly (e.g. global and regional conventions; declarations; individual complaints procedures; special rapporteurs; working groups; constitutional human rights standards in new democracies; national human rights institutions, et cetera).

As part of this development, the diversity of state and non-state actors responsible for and involved in fundamental rights protection has increased tremendously. Generally speaking, this institutional diversity has multiplied the opportunities for developing, monitoring and implementing fundamental rights standards. At the same time some of these developments may be threatening to more effective protection of those rights. The increasing institutional diversity confronts us with a complex and at times confusing array of fundamental rights instruments that may lead to normative diversity, that is the de facto existence of a diversity in normative judgments and opinions on the substantive content of fundamental rights standards (such as scope and meaning; balancing of conflicting rights; implications in terms of negative and positive obligations; and horizontal effect).

Developing and implementing fundamental rights standards in different social, political and economic settings may be inspired by and in its turn further enhance a plurality of readings and understandings of those rights in different regions and countries, and also within pluralist societies. To what extent is this indeed the case? What mechanisms play a role in arriving at (more) convergence or divergence? And to what extent are institutional and normative diversity problematic or something to be applauded? Against this background the programme’s central research problem is formulated as follows.

What opportunities and threats flow from the existence of institutional and normative diversity in the area of fundamental rights for the effective protection of those rights in a pluralist world?

Academic Staff

PhD Candidates

External PhD Candidates

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