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Alain Zysset is a Senior Lecturer in Public Law at School of Law. Before joining Glasgow, he was an Assistant Professor in Public law and Human rights at Durham University. Prior to that, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oslo (PluriCourts Center of Excellence), the EUI in Florence (Max Weber Programme) and at Goethe-University Frankfurt (Excellence Cluster Normative Orders) on a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

His research lies at the intersection of public law, international law and political theory. His main area of research is the theory and practice of the ECHR. The scientific ambition here is to reconstruct the authority and practice of the European Court of Human Rights through the lens of human rights theory and democratic theory. His second area of research is the theory and practice of international criminal law with emphasis on crimes against humanity. The goal here is to reconstruct the authority and practice of international criminal tribunals from the perspective of criminal law theory. His on-going project is to bridge these two strands of research and build a normative theory that could unify human rights law and international criminal law. He has published articles related to these projects in ICON, GlobCon, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Criminal Law and Philosophy, Ratio Juris and CRISPP.

Alain’s academic background is multidisciplinary. After a BA in Philosophy and History (University of Lausanne), he has earned graduate degrees in Philosophy (M.Sc., London School of Economics), History (M.A., Graduate Institute Geneva) and Law (LL.M., University of Toronto). His doctoral thesis, also funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, was defended summa cum laude at the Faculty of Law of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and resulted in a monograph, The ECHR and Human Rights Theory (Routledge, 2016).


Proportionality as Procedure: Strengthening the Legitimate Authority of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has a new mechanism to receive individual complaints and issue views. This development makes the question of how the CESCR should interpret the broad articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights more pressing than ever. Most commentators on the legitimacy of the CESCR’s interpretation have argued that interpreters should make better use of Articles 31-33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) in order to improve the legitimacy of their findings. In this article, we argue conversely that the individual communication mechanism should be evaluated and reformed in terms of legitimate authority. In the context of the CESCR’s process of interpretation, we contend that proportionality is better suited than the various interpretive options of the VCLT to offer a consistent procedure that is able to generate legitimacy by attenuating the tension between personal and collective autonomy.

GCILS Working Papers

Antoinette Scherz (PluriCourts, University of Oslo)

Global Constitutionalism and the International Criminal Court: A Relational View

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“International criminal law (ICL) poses distinctive challenges to the scholarly agenda of global constitutionalism. Descriptively, ICL qua criminal law implies a distinctive institutional process – the trial – that is largely unknown to constitutional processes. It is nonetheless via the trial and its assigned functions that global authority is exercised in the international criminal realm. Can global constitutionalism account for the role of the international criminal trial? Further, international criminal tribunals employ particularly coercive tools to perform its functions: it arrests suspected offenders (with the assistance of states), interrogates them, judges them, may convict and ultimately imprison them. Can global constitutionalism normatively account for this coercive aspect?.”

GCILS Working Papers

The ECHR and Human Rights Theory: Reconciling the Moral and the Political Conceptions

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The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) has been relatively neglected in the field of normative human rights theory. This book aims to bridge the gap between human rights theory and the practice of the ECHR. In order to do so, it tests the two overarching approaches in human rights theory literature: the ethical and the political, against the practice of the ECHR ‘system’. The book also addresses the history of the ECHR and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as an international legal and political institution. The book offers a democratic defence of the authority of the ECtHR. It illustrates how a conception of democracy – more specifically, the egalitarian argument for democracy developed by Thomas Christiano on the domestic level – can illuminate the reasoning of the Court, including the allocation of the margin of appreciation on a significant number of issues. Alain Zysset argues that the justification of the authority of the ECtHR – its prominent status in the domestic legal orders – reinforces the democratic process within States Parties, thereby consolidating our status as political equals in those legal and political orders.