Responding to seismic change in Europe—The road to Reykjavik and beyond

Donald, Alice ORCID logoORCID: and Leach, Philip ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Responding to seismic change in Europe—The road to Reykjavik and beyond. European Human Rights Law Review, 2023 (2) . pp. 95-111. ISSN 1361-1526 [Article]


The year 2022 will be remembered as one of “terrible violence and seismic change in Europe”, in the words of the High-Level Reflection Group established by the Council of Europe to consider the organisation’s future and how best to protect its “common heritage” of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Will 2023 be the year that the Council of Europe reinvents itself to meet the challenges posed not only by Russia’s barbarous invasion of Ukraine but also systemic, even existential, threats such as creeping authoritarianism and the climate emergency? This is the organisation’s ambition in calling a rarely-convened summit of heads of state and government on 16–17 May 2023 in Reykjavik2 which, according to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, must meet the daunting expectation of providing “a new strategic vision, a fresh political impetus and new responses in the face of the present extraordinary challenges”. The article outlines the journey taken by the Council of Europe to this point and previews the likely agenda of the Reykjavik summit. It focuses in particular on proposals to: ensure accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; improve states’ often lamentable implementation of judgments of the court; update the European Convention on Human Rights by recognising environmental rights; and address the ongoing scourge of human rights abuses in the context of armed conflict and “grey zones”. It concludes with discussion of the Council of Europe’s aspiration to increase its visibility and impact, and broad recommendations for priorities for the summit and beyond.

Item Type: Article
Sustainable Development Goals:
Additional Information: An author version is available at
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 37685
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Depositing User: Alice Donald
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2023 09:47
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 13:08

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