1. |
  2. News
  3. |
  4. Bošnjak, Bårdsen, and Jelić...
Bošnjak, Bårdsen, and Jelić Appointed to ECtHR Leadership
May 17, 2024

The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has elected Judge Marko Bošnjak from Slovenia as its President, and also appointed Norway’s Arnfinn Bårdsen as Vice-President, and Montenegro’s Ivana Jelić as Section President. The AIRE Centre is proud to witness these distinguished judges assume prominent positions within one of the most long-standing institutions tasked with upholding human rights standards, as outlined by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

“At the AIRE Centre we are immensely proud of the accomplishments of these exceptional legal professionals and wish to thank them for the time and efforts they invested so far in strengthening the judicial dialogue between the European Court of Human Rights and national judges across the Western Balkans. With their vast expertise, strong dedication and sense of ethics, these judges embody the values we seek to promote in the region: judicial integrity, strong adherence to ECHR and accountability, critical thinking, and openness. It is an honour for me to extend my congratulations to them on their accomplishments on behalf of the AIRE Centre”, said Biljana Braithwaite, director of the Western Balkans Rule of Law Programme at the AIRE Centre.

Newly elected leaders of the European Court of Human Rights have had many opportunities to discuss ECHR implementation with their colleagues from the Western Balkans, which enables them to have a nuanced understanding of the region’s challenges and opportunities in safeguarding human rights. In particular, improving and ensuring rule of law remains among the most urgent areas that require immediate and decisive action, which is and will inevitably continue to be the focus of the Court’s work.

The AIRE Centre had the privilege of hosting Judge Marko Bošnjak, who at the time served as Vice-President of the Court, at the annual Rule of Law Forum for South East Europe in November 2023. This occasion was particularly significant as it coincided with the Forum’s tenth anniversary in the region, and Judge Bošnjak reiterated the Court’s strong ties with national judicial institutions in the region and emphasised the importance of sustaining that dialogue.

“National judges are the first instance Strasbourg judges in that they are called to examine real-life cases by employing the tools the Court has developed. In doing so they share an important part of responsibility that the Strasbourg judges are expected to bear. Attending the Rule of Law Forum for South East Europe for the first time, I am really pleased to see the high level of exchanges between the participants. Obviously, they are enriched by things they hear at the Forum, and they bring them home and implement them in their daily lives. This is how the European Convention on Human Rights lives in practice. Rights guaranteed by the Convention are not theoretical and illusory; rather they are practical and effective”, said Judge Bošnjak.

The AIRE Centre also had the honour of hosting Judge Arnfinn Bårdsen at judicial conferences. Notably, at the time when he served as Section President at the Court, he participated at the tenth Annual Regional Rule of Law Forum for South East Europe, and he took this opportunity to reiterate the Court’s commitment to the Western Balkans region.

“The system of the Convention is based on the principle of shared responsibility. In order to have the Convention truly function, it needs to be implemented in the daily life in any court thought the Europe. We have to have a relationship with the domestic courts and domestic judges that is built on openness and trust. One the most efficient way of doing that is to take part in direct meeting with the people we are cooperating with. In essence, this Forum, and this way of meeting, is feeding directly into the structure of the Convention system, which is also why the judges of Strasbourg are prepared to spend a lot of time in attending these kinds of exchanges — otherwise we simply would not be doing our job”, said Judge Bårdsen in his reflection on the Rule of Law Forum for SEE.

Judge Ivana Jelić, the newly elected Section President of the Court, is longstanding and prominent human rights expert, dedicated to strengthening national implementation of the ECHR. Notably, Judge Jelić is one of the initiators of the AIRE Centre’s Gender Champions in the Judiciary Network, which comprises over 60 judges from the region. Her work as a patron of this Network has been instrumental in raising awareness about gender-based violence and femicide and helping to deliver tangible progress in justice for victims in the Western Balkans region.

“Gender equality is such a value that highlights human dignity and human integrity as the inheritance of all human beings. The goal to achieve this value involves all of us, regardless of the one’s sex, self-identification, or affiliations. We all have a role to play in promoting gender equality in all spheres of life. But judges have a decisive role in protection against gender-based discrimination, violence, and abuse. Being one of the patrons of the Network makes me honoured”, said Judge Jelić.

Judge Jelić has also collaborated with the AIRE Centre on educational events and trainings for judicial actors across the region. She has been particularly involved in educating new generations of judges and legal professionals, ensuring they are equipped with practical knowledge regarding the Court’s standards and practices.

The AIRE Centre reaffirms its dedication to facilitating judicial dialogue between Strasbourg Court and national courts and strengthening ECHR implementation throughout the region. Through ongoing communication and collaboration with regional judicial institutions, as well as the provision of high-level education, the AIRE Centre aims to promote greater access to justice and uphold human rights standards across the region in line with the mission of the European Court of Human Rights. The appointments of Judges Bošnjak, Bårdsen, and Jelić signal a promising future for the protection of human rights and the rule of law in Europe.