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Foundation of the "Cologne Center for Advanced Studies in International History and Law" (CHL) at the University of Cologne

The team of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection is pleased to announce the foundation of the "Cologne Center for Advanced Studies in International History and Law" (CHL) at the University of Cologne. With the announcement of the rules of procedure of 13 September 2023, the CHL now takes up its business as a central academic institution (ZWE) of the University of Cologne in accordance with § 29(1)(2) HG NRW.

The CHL serves as an institutional umbrella for the already existing close cooperation between Prof.' Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Angelika Nußberger (Academy for European Human Rights Protection), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Claus Kreß (Institute for International Peace and Security Law) and Prof. Dr Fabian Klose (Chair of International History and Historical Peace and Conflict Research).

In the CHL, the cooperation between international law and history at the University of Cologne is further strengthened and specifically expanded through interdisciplinary networking in order to enable dynamic growth and development.

On the basis of a grant from the Landecker Foundation, it is planned to establish a Hans Kelsen Visiting Professorship for the History and Theory of International Law, which will be staffed by top-class academics from abroad and will be linked to the Centre via the Institute for International Peace and Security Law.

In addition, a college with the name 'Colleg Konrad Adenauer' is to be integrated into the Centre. The college will function as a central place for international academic exchange and knowledge transfer at the interface of international law and international history.

The aim is to have an impact beyond university boundaries and into broader social discourses. To promote this purpose and to strengthen its external impact, the Centre is managed as a central academic institution at the University of Cologne.

We look forward to expanding this enriching cooperation and to actively supporting the development of the Centre!

Klausuren zur Abschlussklausur Grundrechte (SS 2023) können abgeholt werden

Die Korrektur der Abschlussklausuren zur Volesung „Grundrechte" aus dem Sommersemester 2023 ist abgeschlossen.

Die Klausuren liegen im Sekretariat zur Abholung bereit und können zu den Öffnungszeiten abgeholt werden. Die Ergebnisse sind Ihnen bereits via KLIPS bekanntgegeben worden.

Prof. Dr, Angelika Nußberger elected as associate member of the "Institut de Droit International" (IIL)

Prof. Dr. Angelika Nußberger, Director of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection and the Institute for Eastern European and Comparative Law at the University of Cologne, was elected as an associate member of the Institute of International Law (IIL) at its 81st session (27 August to 2 September 2023). 

The Institute of International Law was founded on 8 September 1873 by eleven renowned international lawyers in the City Hall of Ghent in Belgium. The Institute sees itself as a learned society whose aim is to promote the progress of international law. In recognition of its commitment to arbitration as a peaceful means of settling disputes between states, the Institute was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Membership of the Institute is open to only 132 members at a time. 

We warmly congratulate our Director on this honour and wish her all the best for her new duties!

Klausuren aus dem Schwerpunkt zur Einsicht bereit

Die Klausuren aus dem Schwerpunkt zur Vorlesung Völkerrecht I des Sommersemesters 2023 liegen ab jetzt zur Einsicht bereit.

Sie können gerne jederzeit zu den Öffnungszeiten der Akademie zu diesem Zweck vorbeikommen.

Vernissage & Exhibition: Mein Name ist Mensch – Cologne launches nationwide design exhibition on human rights

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN Human Rights, the exhibition "Mein Name ist Mensch" shows visual interpretations of the 30 articles protecting human rights. Designer Jochen Stankowski looks at the 1948 United Nations resolution and translates its words with design.

The exhibition can be seen from 10 August to 30 December 2023 at the University and City Library of Cologne and focuses on the basic principles of design. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be experienced through forms and images, the design concept translates the words into a visual language that can be understood by all people. The aim of the project is to realise the exhibition at 75 locations in 2023 and 2024 to keep the theme of democracy and human rights present. Cologne kicks off the nationwide campaign, and 30 other exhibition locations have already been confirmed.

The University and City Library of Cologne is presenting "Mein Name ist Mensch" in cooperation with the Academy for European Human Rights Protection and the Office for Europe and International Affairs of the City of Cologne. The idea to show this exhibition project in Cologne goes back to the initiative of the citizens' project "Die AnStifter" from Stuttgart, which as a cosmopolitan network promotes communication and cooperation between people of different nationalities. In addition, the designer Birgit Schöne is participating in the exhibition and presenting the work on her Children's Rights Primer.

"Mein Name ist Mensch" is open since 10th of August with a keynote speech on the exhibition's design concept and a panel discussion on "How do we protect human rights today? The event is in German.

Programme of the vernissage on 10 August from 6 pm:

Keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Christof Breidenich (Macromedia University of Applied Sciences)

Round table discussion: How do we protect human rights today? (Moderated by Martin Stankowski) with:

  • Gerhart Baum, Federal Minister (ret.)
  • Prof. Dr. Angelika Nußberger, Academy for European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne
  • Jessica Mosbahi, Office for Europe and International Affairs of the City of Cologne

Exhibition "Mein Name ist Mensch"
University and City Library Cologne, Universitätsstraße 33, 50931 Köln
Monday to Friday from 9 am to midnight,
Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Free admission!

Dr. Philipp Budde


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Review: Justice, Literature and Remembrance

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An evening with Bernhard Schlink and Philippe Sands, moderated by Géraldine Schwarz 

The reading room of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection at the University of Cologne is filled to capacity last Wednesday, 5 July 2023, when Philippe Sands and Bernhard Schlink did the honours to talk about justice, literature and memory. Both are writers. Both have published bestsellers. Both have achieved international renown through, among other things, film adaptations and translations of their works. And, what gave this evening its form: both are lawyers!

Philippe Sands, an expert in international law, stood as a lawyer before international courts such as the one in The Hague, the European Court of Human Rights or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Bernhard Schlink was a professor of public law, social law and legal philosophy at various universities in Germany and the USA. In addition, he held a judgeship at the Constitutional Court for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in Münster for almost 20 years.

Jura meets author 

In addition to the two authors, the German-French journalist Géraldine Schwarz could be won for the evening. In her own literary and cinematic work, including "Les Amnèsiques/Die Gedächtnislosen" ("The Memoryless"), Schwarz turns to the often painful - and often neglected - coming to terms with the past and pleads for a rethink in the work of remembering. As the moderator of the evening, Géraldine Schwarz impresses in this role and presents herself as a challenging discussion partner. Schwarz leads through the evening for more than two hours and offers the audience plenty of space for questions and an open discussion.

The first topic is the tension between court proceedings and justice on the one hand and memory and reparation on the other. To what extent can a guilty verdict erase experienced suffering and trauma or atone for guilt?

Bernhard Schlink dedicated his world bestseller "The Reader" to Germany's guilt over its past: the author says that the failure to come to terms with the crimes of National Socialism, the Holocaust and the perpetrators as the "second guilt" of the people after 1945 "preoccupied his entire generation".

People and nations share secrets, things that are not talked about, says Sands. He himself is attracted by the gap that arises when people or nations avoid coming to terms with reality. His research "The Rat Line" is symbolic of this gap.

"Who do we get to talk about justice?" (Sands)

Later, the discussion focused on the limits and potentials of literature and legal processes in coming to terms with the past - for example, in dealing with the aftermath of crimes, dictatorships or conflicts. What was exciting here was the view of two lawyers who write - how do they assess their own possibilities of influence through their literary work? Both agreed that literature can make a great contribution to coming to terms with the past. Stories, documentaries and the description of individual fates open doors because they would provide neutral space for different perspectives.

And speaking from the perspective of the recipients: Courts interpret right and wrong, give instructions for action for civil coexistence. Books pleasantly provide space for what was, what would be, what could be - without having to judge.

According to Schlink, the law supports both remembering and forgetting. Both can be traumatic. Therefore, it is important to ask ourselves: What can law achieve? How do we want to remember past injustice?

In the process of reparation, court cases have a decisive role, Sands continues. And since more people read novels than court judgments, it is important to reflect on how literature and jurisprudence can be combined: "What is the relationship between a trial and a novel?"

Sands, born in London to a Jewish immigrant family, followed in the footsteps of his ancestors for his work "East West Street" (2016) and connected it with the story of two jurists who had a decisive influence on modern international law. In contrast to non-fictional texts, fiction has the possibility to make the past accessible to readers through personal connections and to be a door opener for complex jurisprudence, said Sands. He was chairman of English PEN from 2018 to 2023 and this also underlines his attitude: it is important to write about justice! Trials are only one aspect of this. However, the imperative of truthfulness applies, and authors must not ignore historical sources, adds Bernhard Schlink.

Géraldine Schwarz skilfully links the biographies of the authors, especially their legal careers, with their oeuvre. Even though it is not an evening of reading, the audience gains insights into their current prose work.  

In his research "The Rat Line", Philippe Sands sketches the escape of an SS officer before his conviction. The source material was private letters and diaries of the Wächter family as well as conversations Sands had with Otto Wächter's son.

The story "The Granddaughter" by Bernhard Schlink also deals with the motives and personal consequences of an escape - albeit under different auspices: 

Birgit flees to West Germany for love and sacrifices a life with her daughter. Here, too, it is a matter of historical research, the narrative bridges reach into the present and again the protagonists struggle with different world views.

After the discussion on the blue sofa in the packed historical reading room, there are numerous requests to speak from the - in part international - audience.

The discussion took place in English and German. The event was planned and carried out as a cooperation between the Stiftung Forum Recht and the Academy for European Human Rights Protection at the University of Cologne.

We would like to thank the team of the Stiftung Forum Recht for the extremely professional and good cooperation!

(Report: Stiftung Forum Recht)

Let’s Talk about Academic Freedom! Is Academic Freedom in Europe Decided in Beijing?

Despite existing guarantees of academic freedom, academics face multiple threats from within German academia itself which are exacerbated on the international stage by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) globalised censorship regime, dubious party-state funding, the weaponisation of informal Chinese social networks, and an unhealthy dependency among China scholars in the West on ‘official China’. Thus far, both states and universities have failed to identify and respond to these threats. On the 16th of May we had an interesting discussion with Professor Andreas Fulda on how the current situation can be remedied.

If you would like to learn more about the "Let's Talk about Academic Freedom" lecture series please click here.

Cologne team reaches quarter-finals at final round in Strasbourg

From 22 to 26 May 2023, the final round of the 11th Helga Pedersen Moot Court Competition took place at the premises of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Beforehand, the Cologne team, consisting of Emily Dukat, Anne Kleine-Möllhoff, Annalisa Romano and Sara Weber Martin, was able to qualify for the final round as one of 18 out of around 60 European teams through their briefs and a successful international oral preliminary round in Georgia.

The Helga Pedersen Moot Court Competition is organised by the European Law Students' Association (ELSA) and deals with topical issues within the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights. This year, the case deals with issues regarding the recognition of paternity in surrogacy contracts, adoption rights for same-sex couples and effective legal protection under the Convention.

The Cologne team competed in the final round on the side of the plaintiff and on the side of the defendant state and thus had the unique opportunity to demonstrate the rhetorical and argumentative skills they had learned in front of human rights experts of the Council of Europe. The Cologne team was then able to successfully compete against 10 other teams in the quarter-finals and finally finished the final round as one of the best 8 teams.

The competition was accompanied by an academic social programme, extended evening events and various receptions. These were organised by the Permanent Representation of the United Kingdom to the Council of Europe and the City of Strasbourg, among others. This gave the teams the opportunity to network and make valuable contacts.

Since the beginning of the Moot Court in August 2022, the Cologne team has been coached by Lisa Kujus and Frederic Kupsch, research assistants at the Academy for the Protection of European Human Rights (Professor Dr Angelika Nußberger), who also accompanied the team during the intensive final round in Strasbourg.

The application period for the Moot Court Team to participate in the HPMCC in WS 2023/24 is open until 21 June 2023. Further information can be found here.

Prof. Nußberger in Kiew

From 4-6.5.2023 a delegation of the Venice Commission travelled to Kiev with Angelika Nußberger as Vice-President of the Commission and Rapporteur. The delegation discussed Ukrainian legislative projects in preparation for Ukraine's accession to the EU and met representatives of civil society, the international community as well as the Ukrainian government and President Zelenski.

Prof. Nußberger at KölnAlumni

Prof. Dr. DDr. Angelika Nußberger was invited by KölnAlumni to speak at the event "Human Rights & International Order - Challenges in Times of Global Powerplay, War & Crises".

Together with Markus N. Beeko, Secretary General of the German section of Amnesty International, she spoke about the following questions:

  • What are the attacks on human rights today, both nationally and internationally? What does this mean for the international order?
  • What is the role of sovereign states in protecting human rights and translating them into effective human rights policies?
  • How can the universal validity of human rights be realized in the future? On whom will it depend? What will it take?
  • How do we strengthen human rights activists and civil society? 
  • What gives courage despite war and crises?

Watch the recording here