Lunch seminar with Freek van der Vet

Is international litigation an effective tool to find redress for victims of armed conflict? In this presentation I map out how an international network of lawyers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) represents victims of the armed conflict in Georgia, Chechnya, and Eastern Ukraine by litigating at the European Court of Human Rights and by lobbying at the International Criminal Court.

Drawing on fieldwork and interviews (between 2009 and 2016) this paper examines how these human rights lawyers gave legal aid to relatives of people who disappeared after they were unlawfully detained during the second conflict in Chechnya and people who were internally displaced during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia. These lawyers have won hundreds of lawsuits against the Russian state. In fact, they have been so productive that they are now the top litigants at the ECtHR. Through their strategic litigation they expanded the ECtHR’s case law on armed conflict, through lobbying they advanced the domestic implementation of judgments, and they explain what human rights mean to victims. While these litigation projects have been successful, the lawyers have to move from one conflict to another to keep their work attractive to funders and to continuously set new precedents before the European Court of Human Rights. This urgency to expand the scope of human rights is sometimes at odds with the interest of the victims, who often demand long-term legal aid.

Registration: For participation in the event, please use this registration form no later than 19 April, 11:00.

You are welcome to bring your own lunch bag.