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Climate Change in Human Rights Courts

ALLEA – All European Academies | Helen Keller, Başak Çalı, Felix Ekardt, Adam Levy, Antonio Loprieno, Paul R. Seger

Overcoming procedural hurdles in transboundary environmental cases

Human rights bodies usually examine cases brought by individuals who have been impacted in a specific way by an act of their home State. By contrast, a new and atypical kind of case is currently emerging before domestic and international human rights bodies around the world. These are cases in which applicants allege that their human rights have been violated because of States’ and corporations’ failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These cases are atypical not only because of the number of potential victims involved and the global nature of climate change, but also because the harms in question are often still in the future. These cases push human rights bodies to evaluate political decisions and scientific evidence. They raise questions about how to balance economic and environmental interests, how to provide redress for large-scale or systemic problems, and whether it is appropriate to allow human rights bodies to accept claims in the public interest.

To date the European Court of Human Rights has never decided a climate change case. The first two applications, however, have been filed and communicated to the parties. This lecture discusses the most significant admissibility issues that these climate change cases will face before the European Court of Human Rights and show how the Court could ensure that these admissibility hurdles could be overcome and thus climate cases can finally receive full consideration on the merits.



This event can be attended digitally via livestream or in-person with a limited on-site audience.

Online: Registration is free and open via Zoom here.

On-site: Due to limited seats, attendance to the on-site event will be by invitation only. If you wish to attend this event in person, please indicate it in the Zoom registration.

Helen Keller

Universität Zürich

Helen Keller is Chair for Public Law, European and Public International Law at the University of Zurich. She is a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee and served as Judge at the European Court of Human Rights in the period of 2011-2020. In December 2020, she was appointed Judge to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Başak Çalı


Başak Çalı is Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the School’s Centre for Fundamental Rights. She is an expert in international law and institutions, international human rights law and policy. She has authored publications on theories of international law, the relationship between international law and domestic law, standards of review in international law, interpretation of human rights law, legitimacy of human rights courts, and implementation of human rights judgments.

Felix Ekardt

Research Center Sustainability and Climate Policy

Felix Ekardt is Director of the Research Center Sustainability and Climate Policy in Leipzig which he founded in 2009. Since 2009, he is also Professor for Public Law and Legal Philosophy at the Rostock University (Faculty of Law) as well as member of the Leibniz Science Campus on Phosphorus Research – as well as member of the Interdisciplinary Faculty (Department Knowledge-Culture-Transformation). His scientific focus as a lawyer, philosopher and sociologist lies in issues around human science sustainability studies.

Adam Levy has an undergraduate in Physics and a doctorate in Atmospheric Physics, both from the University of Oxford. Adam is an award-winning science journalist, communicating science and climate through a range of media including writing, film and podcast. Adam has worked for a number of publications, including Scientific American, PBS, and Nature, where they co-hosted the award-winning Nature Podcast for over three years.

Professor Antonio Loprieno assumed the Presidency of ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, in May 2018. He studied Egyptology, linguistics, and Semitic studies at the University of Turin in Italy. In the 1980s, he taught at various European universities, including the University of Göttingen in Germany and the University of Perugia in Italy. From 1989 to 2000, he was Professor of Egyptology at the University of California Los Angeles. He served first as Professor at the University of Basel from 2000–2006 and then as Rector from 2006-2015. Among other positions, he served as President of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (2018-2019) and President of the Jacobs University Bremen (2019-2020).

Paul R. Seger

Swiss Embassy Berlin

Dr Paul R. Seger is a Swiss diplomat and international lawyer. He has been the Swiss Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany since August 2018. From 1978 to 1983 he studied Law at the University of Basel and received his doctorate in 1986 with a dissertation on the relationship between international law and national law. From 2010 to 2015 Dr Seger was the permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York. In this function he was the chairman of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) for Burundi. From October 2015 Dr Seger was ambassador to Myanmar for three years and in this capacity, he presided the “Peace Support Group” to support the peace process in the country until 2017. Since August 2018, he has been the successor to Ambassador Christine Schraner Burgener in Berlin.

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About the Venue
Embassy of Switzerland, Germany
Otto-von-Bimarck-Allee 4A
Berlin, Berlin 10557 Germany

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