Responding to Seismic Change in Europe - the Road to Reykjavik and Beyond

European Human Rights Law Review, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 2 May 2023

See all articles by Alice Donald

Alice Donald

Middlesex University

Philip Leach

Middlesex University

Date Written: March 01, 2023


The Council of Europe has convened a rarely-held summit of heads of state and government in May 2023 in Reykjavik, in order to protect its common heritage of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This article outlines the journey taken by the Council of Europe to this point: the three earlier summits from 1993 to 2005, the Protocols that wrought major changes in the functioning of the European Court of Human Rights, and the Interlaken process of reforming the court. It previews the likely agenda of the Reykjavik summit, focusing in particular on proposals to: ensure accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; improve states’ often lamentable implementation of judgments of the Court; update the European Convention on Human Rights by recognising environmental rights; and address the ongoing scourge of human rights abuses in the context of armed conflict and grey zones. The article also discusses a question that will determine the success or otherwise of the reform agenda — the resources that states provide to the Council of Europe. It concludes with discussion of the Council of Europe’s aspiration to increase its visibility and impact, and broad recommendations for priorities for the summit and beyond.

Keywords: Human rights, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, Russia, Ukraine, armed conflict

JEL Classification: K30, K41

Suggested Citation

Donald, Alice and Leach, Philip, Responding to Seismic Change in Europe - the Road to Reykjavik and Beyond (March 01, 2023). European Human Rights Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Alice Donald

Middlesex University ( email )

Philip Leach (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

, The Burroughs, Hendon, London, United Kingdom
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

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