Forthcoming paper: Mellet v Ireland & abortion law reform

I have a new paper forthcoming (either later this year or early next year) in the Medical Law Review: “Fatal Foetal Abnormality, Irish Constitutional Law, and Mellet v Ireland”.

The paper, which is really an extended case commentary, considers the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision in Amanda Jane Mellet v Ireland, handed down earlier this summer. The decision was ostensibly about the human rights implications of criminalising abortion in situations of ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, however in this paper I question whether the reasoning in the case is limited to that circumstance, and argue that the underpinning harms identified as constituting violations of the ICCPR (including inhuman and degrading treatment) actually arise across the spectrum of abortion criminalisation in Ireland. Read this way, Mellet illustrates the rights-based need for comprehensive abortion law reform, and not only for reform in respect of FFAs. Continue reading “Forthcoming paper: Mellet v Ireland & abortion law reform”

New Essay: Evaluation and Effectiveness of Counter-Terrorism

Last autumn I went to Antwerp to give a lecture at a symposium there about responsible innovation in security technology. I am pleased that many of the papers from that symposium are being brought together in a book, including mine. I have now posted the accepted version of the essay on SSRN where it can be downloaded for free. Here is the abstract:

In spite of their proliferation at national and supra-national levels, evaluation of whether counter-terrorist measures are actually effective is worryingly inadequate or, sometimes, simply non-existent. In this short essay I argue that the expansion of counter-terrorism in the past fourteen years has had, and continues to have, serious implications for human rights (not only of suspected terrorists, but of all of us), for democracy, and for the Rule of Law. As a result, part of assessing the justifiability of maintaining (and expanding) these measures must be to establish that there are not only prospectively necessary and designed with rights concerns in mind (the arguments made in justifying introducing them), but also actually effective and proportionate. In order for us to truly assess the effectiveness of a counter-terrorist measure and the robustness of the underlying necessity claim, we must assess the extent to which they meet both meta-objectives of security measures per se and the specific objectives of these measures in as comprehensive, rigorous, and open a way possible. Current practice is, however, not to do this in a systematic manner, meaning that counter-terrorism continues to expand on the basis of prospective arguments as to its necessity and appropriateness, claims for trust on the part of governments and, ultimately, shaky evidentiary bases.

New article on human rights and EU counter-terrorism

I am pleased to say that my forthcoming article, “Accounting for Rights in EU Counter-Terrorism: Towards Effective Review”, has now gone to print. The paper will appear in the Columbia Journal of European Law, the world’s top-ranked EU law journal, and builds on work undertaken as part of the SECILE project. It also sets some of the scene for the work I will be doing in the coming 12 months with the Israel Democracy Institute, tracing the role of rights and proportionality in the process of making the (imminent) EU Directive on Combating Terrorism. As the EU moves towards a European Security Union (discussed again in Brussels just yesterday), our understanding of how, where, when and whether human rights are effectively considered in both ex ante and ex post facto processes relating to EU counter-terrorism continues to be significant. My research suggests that these processes fail to take rights into adequate account, but that a change in mindset (which I propose in this paper) may help.

The full paper will soon be published, although I am happy to provide a pdf by email should anyone request it (f.delondras @ In the meantime, the abstract is as follows:

 Since 2001 the European Union (EU) has developed a rich and wide-ranging body of counter-terrorism law. However, in making and implementing that law the EU, its institutions and its member states have often failed to adequately account for fundamental rights. Thus, EU counter-terrorism has been criticized as unduly interfering with the right to privacy, for example, to the extent that the Court of Justice struck down the Data Retention Directive in 2014 on fundamental rights grounds. This Article outlines the mechanisms by which rights are accounted for in EU counter-terrorism, identifying the deficiencies in current practices. The article argues for an effective “feedback loop” in EU counter-terrorism, advocating the design and implementation of a system of regular and evaluative reviews of EU counter-terrorist laws with a view to both identifying and remedying rights-related deficiencies in those laws, and improving the governance of EU counter-terrorism in order to reduce the likelihood of such deficiencies arising in future law-making processes. Such a system, the Article argues, ought to be designed by reference to the principles of cooperation, transparency and responsiveness.

Review of ‘The Impact, Legitimacy and Effectiveness of EU Counter-Terrorism’

9781138854130Last year, Routledge published a book edited by Josephine Doody and I entitled The Impact, Legitimacy and Effectiveness of EU Counter-Terrorism. The Cambridge Law Journal has now published the first review of the book (C.L.J. 2016, 75(1), 179-182). The reviewer, Anna Marie Brennan (Liverpool), is generous in both her praise and her attention to the chapters that make up the collection. Some extracts are below:

The European Union (EU) continues to play an important role in the development of counter-terrorism law more than a decade after the Al Qaeda attacks on 11 September 2001. Fiona de Londras and Josephine Doody’s edited collection is, therefore, timely. They have brought together an anthology of essays by specialists in the fields of counter-terrorism law, human rights law, and EU law that address key issues in a systematic, synthetic, and critical fashion. A principal merit of the editors is their approach – de Londras and Doody draw on legal, democratic, societal, and operational perspectives to produce an interdisciplinary examination of the impact, legitimacy, and effectiveness of EU counter-terrorism, thereby rendering the volume credible. To date, there has been little research conducted on the legitimacy, impact, and effectiveness of EU counter-terrorism measures. A proper understanding of these issues is essential for reasonable analysis of how the EU has responded to terrorism. This edited collection excellently captures the relationship between the concepts of impact, legitimacy, and effectiveness when policy-makers are drafting and reviewing EU counter-measures. As a result, this book makes a significant contribution to the existing literature in the field.

Overall, this book is an excellent addition to the debate and dialogue on EU counter-terrorism. As well as providing a unique insight into the effectiveness of the EU in countering terrorism, the book also demonstrates how the rest of the international community could well take note of the EU’s approach to the prevention of terroristic activity. What is most significant about the book – and should not go underestimated – is the emphasis it places upon the primacy of impact, legitimacy, and effectiveness. It demonstrates how these three concepts are a central part of the overall EU counter-terrorism strategy, and its effective implementation and clear legal contours are vital to its existence. Fundamentally, this collection of essays provides clarity on these interpretive issues and suggests approaches for overcoming the challenges that the rapid growth of the EU’s counter-terrorism strategy has garnered. This book will be useful not only for academics, but also for legal practitioners and students, who are invited to reflect on the complex nexus between the EU and counter-terrorism law and policy.