This evening I delivered the 9th Annual Seán Lester lecture of the Irish Society of International Law at St Michan’s Church, Dublin. The lecture, entitled “The Future of the European Court of Human Rights” outlines what I consider to be three key crises facing the Court: the crisis of legitimacy, the crisis of enforcement, and the crisis of dilution. All of these, I argued, are fundamentally crises of politics, rather than crises relating to the Court per se, thus indicating that what is key to the resolution of these crises and to securing the future of the Court is political change in Council of Europe states and across the CoE itself.
One of the great pleasures of preparing this lecture was that I learned much more about Seán Lester. For a country with a tendency to make much of our forebears (not a bad characteristic, I think), the low profile assigned to Seán Lester is quite surprising. He was High Commissioner of Danzig (under the League of Nations mandate, created in the Treaty of Versailles), Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations, and then the final Secretary General of the League of Nations. Indeed, he is arguably better remembered in Poland (particularly Gdansk, formerly Danzig) than he is at home in Ireland, and it was thus a real honour to be invited to give this lecture.
The full text of the lecture (as prepared; not necessarily exactly as delivered!) is available here.