Martin Scheinin

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Martin Scheinin
Born (1954-11-04)November 4, 1954
Helsinki, Finland
Residence Florence, Italy
Nationality Finnish
Education University of Turku, Finland
University of Helsinki, Finland
Occupation Professor of Public International Law, European University Institute, Florence, Italy
Known for UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, 2005-2011

Martin Scheinin (born 4 November 1954) was the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.[1] He was selected for this position after serving for eight years (1997-2004) as member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body monitoring states' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. While on the Committee, he was known as a defendant of the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples and opponent of capital punishment, as well as the drafter of the Committee's General Comment No. 29 on states of emergency.

Today he is a Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and an expert of international law, human rights and constitutional law. In December 2010 Scheinin was elected President of the International Association of Constitutional Law.

Education[edit]

Scheinin was born on 4 November 1954 in Helsinki, Finland, and was educated in law at the Universities of Turku and Helsinki.

Academic career[edit]

Scheinin received his doctorate in law from the University of Helsinki in 1991.[2] Scheinin was professor of law for fifteen years in Finland, first at the University of Helsinki (1993-1998) and then at Åbo Akademi University (1998-2008) where he was also the Director of the Institute for Human Rights, before moving to Florence in 2008 to take up office as Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute.[2][3]

At the European University Institute, Scheinin's areas of research and supervision include public international law, human rights law, international criminal law, comparative constitutional law and anti-terrorism legislation. He is the Coordinator of the FP7-research project SURVEILLE (Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency), and was earlier the Work Package leader in the research project DETECTER (Detection Technologies, Terrorism, Ethics, and Human Rights) under the European Union Framework 7 Security Programme,.[4] He is also the coordinator of the research strand GLOTHRO (Beyond Territoriality: Globalisation and Transnational Human Rights Obligations) within the EUI Global Governance Programme.[5]

His professional experience also includes working for the Parliament of Finland, the Finnish Ministry of Justice and three governmental commissions that drafted amendments to the Finnish Constitution, including the 1995 fundamental rights reform.[3] He has taught courses on human rights or counter-terrorism in many parts of the world, including at the University of Melbourne,[6] University of Pretoria,[7] and the University of Toronto, and for professional target groups such as judges, lawyers or prosecutors in Egypt, Latvia, and the Russian Federation.

In December 2010 Scheinin was elected President of the International Association of Constitutional Law.[8]

Work with the UN[edit]

Scheinin has worked with the UN on human rights issues since 1997, first as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and from 2005 until 2011 as Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.[2]

Special Rapporteur[edit]

In April 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed "a special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism".[1] This was initially a three-year appointment, to end in 2008, but was later extended by three more years, to end in 2011.

As Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Scheinin reported annually both to the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council. His reports have covered themes such as definitions of terrorism, the right to fair trial in terrorism cases, the impact of counter-terrorism measures on economic, social and cultural rights, the right to privacy in the age of counter-terrorism, the role of intelligence agencies and their oversight in counter-terrorism, and the identification of best practice in combating terrorism in full compliance with human rights.

Some of the reports have been commended by governments, such as those related to discriminatory profiling or the right to privacy in the context of counter-terrorism. On some other occasions, certain governments have been highly critical about the reports, such as Scheinin's analysis of the [gender] impact of counter-terrorism measures [9] and his proposals of a total reform of the terrorist listing by the United Nations Security Council.[10]

As Special Rapporteur, Scheinin was a member of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and has conducted a number of country visits to assess the counter-terrorism law and practice of countries such as Turkey, South Africa, United States, Israel, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia and Peru. As part of the country missions, he visited prisons and observed terrorism trials, such as the Military Commission hearings in the Hamdan case in Guantanamo Bay [11] and the Jose Padilla and Ahmed Ghailani trials in the United States. The country visits have often resulted in concrete improvements, such as the repeal of a contested Presidential Decree in Peru immediately after the visit in September 2010.[12] As Special Rapporteurs can visit a country only upon the invitation of its government, Scheinin has not been able to obtain access to countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines, or the Russian Federation.

Scheinin's mandate as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism ended on 31 July 2011. He was succeeded by Ben Emmerson, Q.C. (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), who assumed this mandate on 1 August 2011.

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