Sixty-six Communicated Applications Vs. the Russian 'Foreign Agents Act' at the European Court of Human Rights: A Global Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the Making?
12 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 12, 2019
More and more submissions that challenge the Russian “Foreign Agents Act” are being sent to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. In total, sixty-six proceedings are currently ongoing before the Court. The first application was made in 2013, the most recent in 2018. Russia has to respond to complaints by an expansive number of (members of) NGOs (such as Ecodefence, Levada Centre, North Caucasus Environmental Watch and Eco-Logica).
On the global level, the adoption of aforementioned laws, as reported also by Amnesty International, and the decline in political rights and civil liberties for the past 13 years, as monitored by Freedom House, could threaten further freedom of expression and media freedoms.
Remarking on the need to search for a responsive and viable mechanism of formal dispute resolution in the cross-border funding of NGOs context, L.H. Mayer (2018; in 'Globalization Without a Safety Net: The Challenge of Protecting Cross-Border Funding of NGOs', Minnesota Law Review, 102(3), p. 1265) has put forth to especially look at member state funded mechanisms such as regional human rights agreements. The ECHR likely holds the best option for a level-playing field in this context, although a fully tested outcome is lacking at the moment.
I outline and discuss in this article all the communicated cases that challenge the Russian “Foreign Agents Act”, which are available at the ECtHR. I also sketch how some other Treaty Articles are interlinked. The term “political activity” is central to the arguments raised here. I discuss separately how that term could be treated in light of the case law of the ECtHR about Article 16 of the ECHR at the end of this paper. In the conclusion, I sum up the remarks made in order to address the importance of these cases advancing at the ECtHR.
Note: This is an Authors' Original Version of an adaption from a book-chapter published by Leiden University on 5 February 2019.
Keywords: Human Rights, European Court, Foreign Agents Act, Russia, NGOs, Media Content Production Market, Cross-border Finance, Compulsory Registration, Political Activity, Dispute Resolution
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