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.

Recruiting an RA for work on the Proposed EU Directive on Combating Terrorism

IDI-logo1I am very pleased to be joining in the research team of the ERC-funded project “Proportionality in Public Policy“. This project is led by Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).

As part of this research project a working group is being organised, entitled “The Consideration of Rights in the Process of Developing Policy for Combating Terrorism”. The research group will run for approximately one year (roughly May 2016-July 2017).

As part of the research group, I will be conducting a case study on the topic of “The European Directive on Combating Terrorism: Human Rights in a Complex Policy Context”, alongside researchers conducting similar case studies in other jurisdictions.

As part of my participation in the working group, IDI will fund research assistance devoted to this case study for approximately 450 hours, and up to a maximum of €12,000 gross. Although recruited and supervised by me, the RA will enter an employment contract with IDI, and payment will be done directly by IDI to the RA. IDI maintains the possibility to end its employment contract with the RA, subject to providing due notice.

I am now inviting applications for this post. The RA contract will run for the duration of the working group, and it is expected that around 1.5 days per week would be devoted, on average, by the RA to the project. The work will require the RA to undertake extensive literature review, document collation, document review, timeline construction, and possibly interviews with associated transcription. The work will result in both a case study to be published on the IDI webpage and at least one major peer reviewed article, which may be coauthored by the RA and me. The RA should have a good awareness of the concept and law relating to proportionality in human rights law (preferably comparative perspectives thereon), EU law, and counter-terrorism, or the capacity to quickly acquire appropriate expertise in these fields. Research experience would be an advantage. The RA will also be able to work independently, to firm timelines, and to an extremely high standard.  S/he will be a curious, independent thinker with a clear interest in human rights, the EU, counter-terrorism, proportionality, policy making, or a combination of these. S/he will not necessarily be a lawyer.

The RA will not have any formal employment or other relationship with the University of Birmingham as a result of this post, although s/he may have access to UoB library and other resources as appropriate. The RA need not be based in Birmingham, although s/he should be available for regular meetings by Skype and, where possible, in person. No additional travel expenses will be paid beyond the core RA payment.

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Fiona de Londras at

Applicants should send (by email) a CV, a writing sample (up to a maximum of 8,000 words), and a covering letter outlining suitability for this post to Prof. de Londras at by 22 April 2016.



Participatory Research and PhD Study: New Chapter

Last autumn I was very pleased to go to the University of Limerick and present at their excellent conference on methodologies in law. The conference was aimed at doctoral students and there were many in attendance. I presented on participatory research: what is it? Why would you do it? What are the benefits, and the risks, of engaging in this approach to research? The organisers are now finalising an edited book coming from the conference, and I have written up my presentation as a short chapter. The chapter does not purport to tell people how to go about particular means of doing participatory research. Rather, it aims to open doctoral students’ minds to the possible benefits of doing participatory research and to the sets of questions that one might usefully work through when undertaking participatory research. The full chapter in its pre-print mode is available here, and it ends:

Originality is, of course, the Holy Grail of doctoral students. That the candidate has made an original contribution to knowledge is, at core, the basic requirement for being awarded the degree for which you have studied for at least (and often far more than) three years. Originality is also achievable in many means: there is no one right way to establish it. Certainly a well-constructed, curious, intelligent research question that pushes the boundaries of existing knowledge is more or less essential, but so is how one pursues the fundamental task of the PhD: pursuing that question through a well designed research project. In doing that, your choice of methodological approach is important, and participatory research can be an excellent framework for the acquisition of original knowledge, which is then processed, considered, analyzed and marshaled into an argument that constitutes an original contribution to knowledge. Participatory research can lend a new kind of authority to assumed knowledge, present real world heterodoxies to doctrinal orthodoxy, enrich a set of findings, and greatly enhance the originality and practicability of research findings. However, all of this can only be achieved if two conditions are met: (i) the research enquiry justifies the methodology, and (ii) the researcher engages seriously and carefully with the process and the participants.