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Interview von Prof. Nußberger mit der Central European University

Alexei Navalny

Honorary doctorate awarded to Gerhart Baum

Photo: Ludolf Dahmen

Former Federal Minister Gerhart Baum was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne at a ceremony on 30 January 2024. The award ceremony was organised by the Academy for European Human Rights Protection and took place in the presence of Lord Mayor Henriette Reker, the Rector of the University, Professor Dr Joybrato Mukherjee, and numerous members of the Faculty of Law.

Gerhart Baum, born in 1932, has been a member of the FDP since 1954 and was a member of the German Bundestag from 1972 to 1994. From 1972 to 1978 he was Parliamentary State Secretary and from 1978 to 1982 Federal Minister of the Interior in the social-liberal Federal Government led by Helmut Schmidt. From 1992, he worked for the UN, first as head of the German delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and later as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Sudan. Today he is active with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Baum works as a lawyer and has been involved in a number of successful constitutional complaints before the Federal Constitutional Court, for example against the law on combating organised crime (large-scale eavesdropping). Gerhart Baum also successfully lodged a complaint against the North Rhine-Westphalian law on secret online searches of private computers and was one of the complainants against the Data Retention Act. As a lawyer, Gerhart Baum has also represented the victims of the attack during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the Love Parade disaster in Duisburg in 2010.

Rector Professor Dr Joybrato Mukherjee said: "With this honorary doctorate, the university is honouring Gerhart Baum's multifaceted commitment to freedom and civil rights in our country and around the world. He is a role model for our students, also because of his clear words against right-wing extremism."
Professor Dr Bernhard Kempen, Dean of the Faculty of Law, emphasised how rarely the faculty awards honorary doctorates. He emphasised the concept of freedom that Baum always championed, which he sees as rooted in the tradition of political enlightenment: "Growing up, I was influenced by the extent to which Gerhart Baum advocated an idea of freedom that is not restricted to the free market. His commitment to fundamental and human rights is another reason why we will remember his time as Minister of the Interior for a long time."

Symposium on “Misappropriation and Human Rights Implosion”

Between 6 and 8 November 2023, our postdoctoral researchers Dr. Júlia Miklasová, Dr. Paula Rhein-Fischer, and Dr. Cathérine Van de Graaf organised a symposium on "Misappropriation and Human Rights Implosion" at Schloss Herrenhausen in Hanover. VolkswagenStiftung funded and co-organised the event, which was part of the thematic week "Human Rights in Times of Multiple Challenges - Perspectives from Science and Society". The symposium brought together early career and established researchers from around the world and disciplinary background (law, sociology, linguistics, history, political science and IR). The participants discussed the topic from different angles, bringing together their unique scholarly experience and diverse methodological and disciplinary approaches.

During three days of the symposium, six panels examined the topic of misappropriation of human rights through different perspectives in both authoritarian and democratic regimes. The panels critically assessed the notion itself, focused on the key actors involved (ranging from States, religious, conservative groups, NGOs, and transnational networks), the strategies employed, as well as the locus of contestations (from domestic politics, domestic and international courts, up to international diplomacy). The symposium explored the theme through more general lenses and zoomed in on specific cases from across the world. Ultimately, the participants highlighted the implications of the phenomenon of misappropriation of human rights for the future of human rights, society and international relations. 

The conveners presented the video results of the focus groups conducted with young university students from different European countries on the topic of “Good Name of Human Rights? Does it Matter?”. The symposium closed with a keynote address by one of the leading voices on the subject of misappropriation and the implosion of human rights Prof. Katharine Young (Associate Dean for Faculty and Global Programs, Professor, and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at Boston College Law School) entitled "Human Rights Misappropriation and Legal Form”.

We are grateful for the funding and co-organization of this event to the VolkswagenStiftung.

Visiting scholar Professor Dr Adam Bodnar appointed as Polish Minister of Justice!

Prof. Dr Adam Bodnar was sworn in as Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General of Poland in Donald Tusk's cabinet on Wednesday, 13 December 2023. As part of the Global Faculty, he has been a visiting professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne since February 2022 and will remain so until January 2024, during which time he has provided long-term support for the work of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection. In addition to supervising courses, seminars and doctoral students, his duties at the Academy have included participating in conferences.

Professor Bodnar's academic work focuses on constitutional law and human rights. He was the Commissioner for Civil Rights in Poland, whose aim is to protect citizens from unlawful state behaviour and to preserve human rights. Professor Bodnar was and is involved in numerous non-governmental organisations, e.g. Client Earth Poland, which are dedicated to the protection of human rights. He is also the author or co-author of numerous scientific publications, particularly in the field of human rights. Adam Bodnar has been honoured with European and international awards for his work.

We are delighted for Professor Bodnar and wish him all the best for his important tasks as Minister of Justice!

Review: AjV-Conference “Progress and International Law: A Cursed Relationship?”

Between 22 and 23 September 2023, the Academy for European Human Rights Protection hosted the AjV-DGIR conference entitled “Progress and International Law: A Cursed Relationship.” The conference subscribed to a long history of the activities of the Working Group of Young Scholars in Public International Law – the AjV. The unique feature of these conferences is bringing together young and established scholars to discuss an innovative and challenging topic in a direct exchange.

This year was no different – the conference participants heard the presentations by fifteen young researchers and the comments by fifteen established scholars. Over two days, five panels discussed the relationship between progress and time, challenged the paradigms of progress, questioned the link between progress and human rights, traced the operation of the notion of progress in the Anthropocene and focused on the association between progress and power. The conference's patron Prof. Dr. Angelika Nußberger opened and closed the conference with her remarks.

Judge Prof. Dr. Hilary Charlesworth delivered the conference’s keynote speech "Searching for Progress in International Law", which you can watch, as part of Völkerrechtsblog symposium, here.

The Fritz Thyssen Stiftung offered crucial and generous funding for the conference. Other partners and sponsors included: Academy for European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne, German Society of International Law, Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, Osborne Clarke, Seidl-Hohenveldern-Verein zur Förderung der Völkerrechtswissenschaft, Verein zur Förderung der Rechtswissenschaft der Universität zu Köln, Völkerrechtsblog, Duncker & Humblot GmbH, Springer Nature Group, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft.

The organising team of the conference was composed of Dr. Paula Fischer, Alexander Holzer, Rebecca Kruse, Lisa Kujus, Dr. Júlia Miklasová, Jasper Mührel, Lorenz Wielenga, and Sara Wissmann.

Long-term funding agreement between the University of Cologne and the Alfred Landecker Foundation

The University of Cologne and the Alfred Landecker Foundation conclude two funding agreements that will support interdisciplinary cooperation at the interface between international history and international law in the long term. Both agreements are linked to the ‘Cologne Center for Advanced Studies in International History and Law’ (CHL), a new central academic institution of the university, which was just founded by Professors Angelika Nußberger, Fabian Klose and Claus Kreß.

To begin with, the ‘Hans Kelsen Visiting Professorship for the History and Theory of International Law’ will be funded. The new visiting professorship will be located at the ‘Institute for International Peace and Security Law’ directed by Professor Kreß and will be funded with a total of 2.5 million euros over a period of more than 9 years.

The visiting professorship is dedicated to research in the history and theory of international law. Issues relating to the protection of minorities, collective rights in international law, the prevention and prosecution of crimes under international law, as well as the protection of cultural assets and restitution will also be addressed.

The visiting professorship is named after Hans Kelsen, in memory of the eminent legal theorist and constitutional and international lawyer, who was forcibly dismissed from the service of the University of Cologne in 1933 due to his Jewish origin and his democratic convictions.

At the same time, the ‘Colleg Konrad Adenauer’ will be funded with a total of 1.6 million euros . It will become the central pillar of the ‘Cologne Center for Advanced Studies in International History and Law’ (CHL). Thanks to the funding by the Alfred Landecker Foundation, renowned international historians and international lawyers can be invited to the Center to conduct research on topics such as human rights, humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, international criminal justice, as well as on foundational questions of war and peace. The ‘Colleg Konrad Adenauer’ will serve as a central location for international academic exchange and knowledge transfer at the interface between international law and international history. It is envisaged to reach out, on the basis of thorough scholarly research, to broader social discourses beyond university and academic boundaries.

“The interdisciplinary cooperation between history and international law combines the lessons of the past with the safeguarding of democracy and collective rights in the here and now,” says Lena Altman, Co-CEO of the Alfred Landecker Foundation. “We are pleased to promote the scholarly dialogue of internationally renowned experts in these fields, especially in the context of current conflicts and wars, such as the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and Hamas' war against Israel.” 

“The support from the Alfred Landecker Foundation will enable us to receive valuable input, through long-term close collaboration with colleagues from abroad, to the close cooperation in Cologne in the fields of international history and international law and to hereby deepen the relevant research reaching from foundational questions to pressing current problems,” says Professor Claus Kreß. “The encounter with our guests is also meant to inspire our younger scholars and our students as well as to give Cologne citizens a further incentive to visit the university at suitable occasions. We are very grateful to the Alfred Landecker Foundation for providing us with this splendid future perspective alongside its many other important commitments.”

Media Contact:
Professor Dr Fabian Klose
Managing Director of CHL
+49 221 470 5248

Press and Communications Team:
Jan Voelkel
+49 221 470 2356


Portrait of Prof. Dr. Angelika Nußberger in the Kölnische Rundschau of 24.10.2023

On 24 October 2023, the Kölnische Rundschau reported in a portrait on the work and activities of our Director Prof. Dr. DDr. h.c.. Angelika Nußberger. Under the title "There's a crack in her world - Angelika Nußberger is Director of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection at the University of Cologne - The professor travels in the cause of democracy", Prof. Nußberger reports on her travels, her current projects as well as her professional career path. 

You can find the full article here (paywall) [in German].

The Cologne/Bonn Academy in Exile (CBA) introduces itself

The Cologne/Bonn Academy in Exile was founded on 13 June 2022 by the University of Cologne and the University of Bonn. Its aim is to support renowned researchers who have had to flee due to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In addition to researchers from Ukraine, this can also include researchers from Russia and Belarus who are being persecuted for their opposition to the war. You can find more information at

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!