Human Rights Advocacy and Training
Submitting InstitutionMiddlesex University
Unit of AssessmentLaw
Summary Impact TypeLegal
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), led by
Leach, has combined research and litigation over ten years, to achieve access to justice for
individuals in the former Soviet Union. It has mentored and trained lawyers and non-governmental
organisations; raised awareness about human rights violations; and improved the functioning of the
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Impact on public policy is evidenced by: (i) justice for
individuals; (ii) compensation secured through the ECtHR; and (iii) consequential changes in
national law and policy. To date, EHRAC's impact includes 98 ECtHR judgments against Russia,
Georgia and Ukraine, on behalf of 1,100 victims.
Two strands of research underpin EHRAC's impact: i) analysis of the evolution of the jurisprudence
and practice of the ECtHR, especially as applied to post-conflict and transitional societies; ii)
articulation of theoretical and practical approaches to addressing large-scale human rights
violations in Europe, including assessment of challenges related to the effective domestic
implementation of European norms.
(i) Evolution of the ECtHR's jurisprudence and practice in post-conflict and transitional
Research undertaken by Leach analysing the performance of the ECtHR with respect to the
conflict in Chechnya appeared in several journals, notably the European Human Rights Law
Review . This corpus of work identified problems of evidence-gathering, and the lacunae in
norms of accountability which are accentuated during internal conflict and states of emergency.
This research informed Leach's successful Nuffield Foundation project (2008-09), which examined
the effectiveness of the European Court's investigative fact-finding procedure (an exceptional
procedure in which the Court holds in-country witness hearings, because of the absence of any
prior effective domestic proceedings, for example during states of emergency). The research
scrutinised the rules of evidence applied by the ECtHR, in particular the standard of proof (`beyond
reasonable doubt'), as well as the conduct and experience of past fact-finding missions. These
themes were developed in a 2010 article in the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights . These
and other developments assessing the Court's practice and procedure were discussed extensively
in Leach's 2005 book Taking a Case to the European Court of Human Rights , a substantially
revised third edition of which was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. This book in
particular is widely recognised as being crucial for anyone contemplating engaging with the
ECtHR. In his role as someone closely involved with the ECtHR system, Leach has also published
influential research identifying reforms to the Court's practice in the European Human Rights Law
Review . His research findings have since been utilised to inform EHRAC's extensive
programme of strategic litigation before the ECtHR (covering more than 300 cases), including
litigation related to conflict in Chechnya, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
(ii) Theoretical and practical approaches to large-scale human rights violations in Europe
Leach's article in European Human Rights Law Review (2005)  analysed the ECtHR's `pilot
judgment procedure' (PJP). This had been introduced in 2004 as an effective new mechanism for
responding to large-scale human rights violations in Europe and for managing the ECtHR's
backlog of 150,000 cases. These challenges were further investigated in other books and articles
in 2010 . This phase of research was made possible by Leach's success in attracting a
Leverhulme Trust research grant, 2009-10 (£65,433 - for research in Italy, Poland and Slovenia); it
examined: i) the rationale for the ECtHR's use of the PJP; ii) de-facto constitutional change, with
the Court moving away from individual justice towards enforcing legislative change; iii) the
domestic implementation of changes introduced with the aim of ending systemic human rights
abuses. The work has been supported by a number of competitively won research grants .
References to the research
Research publications are in outlets with well respected, rigorous peer review systems. Research
grants were competitively won, after having gone through peer review.
(1) P. Leach, `The Chechen Conflict: Analysing the Oversight of the European Court of Human
Rights'  EHRLR 732-761 (also published in Russian in Comparative Constitutional
Review 1 (74) 2010, 143-168).
(2) P. Leach, C. Paraskeva & G. Uzelac, `Human Rights Fact-finding — the European Court of
Human Rights at a Crossroads', Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, 28(1), March
(3) P. Leach, Taking a Case to the European Court of Human Rights, Oxford University Press,
2005 (now in its third edition: 2011, 619 pp, ISBN 9780199585021).
(4) P. Leach, `Beyond the Bug River — A new dawn for redress before the European Court of
Human Rights'  EHRLR 148 (also published in Russian in Sravnitelnoe
Konstitutsionnoe Obozrenie (Comparative Constitutional Review), No. 3 (52) 2005 94-104,
Institute for Law and Public Policy, Moscow).
(5) P. Leach, H. Hardman, S. Stephenson, `Can the European Court's Pilot Judgment
Procedure Help Resolve Systemic Human Rights Violations? Burdov and the Failure to
Implement Domestic Court Decisions in Russia', Human Rights Law Review, 10(2) (2010),
(6) Research grants received: Leach, Nuffield Foundation, (2008-9) £75,772; Leverhulme Trust
Research Grant (2009-2010) £65,433.
Details of the impact
Research on human rights accountability with respect to post-conflict and transitional societies
informs EHRAC's programme of litigation before the ECtHR (300 cases, on behalf of 1,100
applicants), including: victims of disappearances, extra-judicial executions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment
and other violations of the ECHR (arising predominantly in Chechnya but also in South
Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabkh and the North Caucasus). Sir Nicolas Bratza (the immediate past
President of the ECtHR) has commended EHRAC for having done `so much to achieve justice and
redress for so many who have been the victims of violations of fundamental human rights' [1,
The reach and significance of EHRAC's impact can be measured by: the number of cases won
(98) and the quality of the decisions achieved. Thus, in 96% of the decisions at least one violation
of the ECHR was shown. Impact can also be measured by the extent of financial compensation
gained for victims (totalling approximately €6.5 million), and by the legislative and policy changes
which have been effected within the domestic polity as a result of key judgments.
The changes resulting from the judgments achieve a wider and more sustained impact than solely
for the victims because:
1) When a government is found in violation of protected rights it is obliged to undertake to
change relevant laws, thereby guaranteeing that the fruits of the promised right can be
upheld as part of its administrative mechanisms.
2) As the premier court of human rights, the judgments of the ECtHR are cited and used all
over the world, not only by other regional human rights courts but also by apex national
courts; creating a multiplier effect extending the impact's reach and significance.
3) The perspectives gained by Leach through his direct engagement in litigation are reflected
in academic writing which disseminates strategy and good practice when that work is taken
up by NGOs and other advocates. This same work also forms essential material in
achieving the training impacts described below.
The following examples of change have been selected to provide a flavour of EHRAC's work:
Compensation for victims of Soviet-era repression in Georgia: In Kiladze v. Georgia,
EHRAC sought redress over the malfunctioning of Georgian legislation regarding the
granting of compensation to victims of Soviet-era repression . The Court identified a
`legislative void', which resulted directly in the passing of new legislation in 2011 in order to
effect compensation payments (for up to 20,000 people). (See Communication from
Georgian Ministry of Justice to Genevieve Mayer, in French .
Reinstatement of judges in Ukraine: In Volkov v Ukraine (2013), EHRAC litigated to
challenge the applicant's dismissal from the post of judge of the Supreme Court, and won a
judgment that, for the first time, resulted in the ECtHR ordering a government to ensure
reinstatement . The judgment's rulings on the unacceptability of politicians' control over
the appointment and dismissal of judges (through the High Council of Justice) will require
amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution, with the introduction of new legislation to follow.
Capacity-building: EHRAC has trained more than 850 lawyers and activists across the
former Soviet Union . This training, derived from the underpinning research, has
empowered lawyers and activists, enhancing the quality of their output; it has also fostered
strong networks of people dedicated to working in human rights law.
The research on the ECtHR's pilot judgment procedure (PJP)informed and assisted
the European Court in developing and codifying standards related to its use. Upon
completion of their research, Leach's team disseminated their findings at a collaborative
seminar hosted at the Court in Strasbourg in June 2010. Participants included: ECtHR
judges (Lech Garlicki, Francoise Tulkens), registrars (Fribergh, O'Boyle), and Head of the
Department for Execution of Judgments (Mayer), as well as government representatives. In
March 2011, the Court announced the introduction of a new rule (Rule 61 of the Court
Rules) to clarify and codify the PJP . Leach's research on the ECtHR's fact-finding
processes is cited as a primary source by O'Boyle and Brady (ECtHR Deputy Registrar and
Registry Lawyer) in their 2013 article in European Human Rights Law Review on
investigatory powers of the European Court of Human Rights , in which they discuss how
the Court is likely to develop its approach to fact-finding).
In keeping with EHRAC's long-term achievements, prominent end-users who can testify to its
impact include practitioners within the legal profession , the Registrar of the ECtHR ; and the
body that oversees the impact of its judgments .
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Speech by Sir Nicolas Bratza at an EHRAC event at Pushkin House, London on 12 September
- ECHR, Klaus and Yuri Kiladze v. Georgia, No. 7975/06 Judgment of 2.2.2010.
- Communication from M. Mamuka Longuraskvili, Georgian Ministry of Justice to Genevieve
Mayer, Head of Department for Execution of Judgments.
- ECHR, Volkov v Ukraine, No. 21722/11, judgment of 9.1.13.
EHRAC 10 Year Review 2003 - 2013 (p.23)
- ECHR, Rule 61 of the Rules of Court, 18/03/2011
- M. O'Boyle and N. Brady (2013), `Investigatory powers of the European Court of Human Rights',
European Human Rights Law Review,  378-391 (pp. 379, 382 and 387)
- Samantha Knights, [Matrix Chambers] Bar Human Rights Committee of England Wales,
corroborating statement available on request.
- Michael O'Boyle, Deputy Registrar, European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, corroborating
statement available on request.
- Lord Frank Judd, former Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rapporteur
on Chechnya, corroborating statement available on request.