European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

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European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
ECCHR logo.svg
Formation5 March 2007
FounderWolfgang Kaleck
PurposeHuman rights organization
  • Berlin
Lotte Leicht, Tobias Singelnstein, Dieter Hummel

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, nonprofit non-governmental organization with the aim of enforcing human rights through legal means. Using litigation, it tries to hold state and non-state actors responsible for egregious human rights abuses.[1] It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck together with a group of human rights lawyers, in order to help protect the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other declarations of human rights and national constitutions, by juridical means. ECCHR engages in litigation, using European, international, and national law to help protect human rights.[2]

Topics and Focus[edit]

ECCHR initiates, develops, and supports strategic human rights litigation to hold state and non-state actors accountable for human rights violations. In doing so, ECCHR tries to work on cases that illustrate and highlight legal and social problems, recognizing that human rights violations are committed in specific contexts with a view to achieving certain financial, social, military or political goals. ECCHR aims to influence debates about these issues from a power-critical perspective.

ECCHR litigates cases but also researches, investigates, and helps to coordinate the development strategies of legal advocacy around cases.[3] The organization conducts it work within a network of partner organizations, lawyers and those affected by concrete human rights violations.

ECCHR's work focuses on cases in the following areas:

International Crimes and Accountability[edit]

The International Crimes and Accountability Program aims to ensure that grave breaches of international law - war crimes, torture and other crimes against humanity - are prosecuted and perpetrators are brought to justice. ECCHR is focusing its work on the following countries and themes:[4]


ECCHR's Migration program advocates for the fundamental protection and rights of refugees and challenges asylum policies in Europe through strategic case work. Areas of focus include:

  • EU's asylum, refugee and migration policies[14]
  • Unlawful push-backs at the EU's external borders[15]

Business and Human Rights[edit]

The Business and Human Rights program looks at three main areas: transnational corporate activities in authoritarian regimes and conflict zones, working conditions in the global supply chain and business activities that affect economic and social rights. Areas of focus include:[16]

  • Cooperation of companies with regimes and conflict parties and their relation to human rights violations (e.g. in Syria,[17] Yemen,[18] Colombia, Argentina)
  • Inhumane working conditions in the global supply chain in agro and textile industries (e. g. in Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Qatar[19])
  • Access to land and livelihoods (e. g. in Zimbabwe, Peru[20])

Institute for Legal Intervention[edit]

In the Institute for Legal Intervention, ECCHR focuses on critical perspectives on law, particularly concerning dynamics of power. By combining legal theory and practice and through exchange with research institutions and universities, but also through collaboration with activists, artists and partners worldwide, ECCHR aims to contribute to political, legal and societal debates regarding unjust power relations and social justice.[21] At the core of this work lies the understanding of law as an expression of societal power relations and thus an instrument of hegemony, but also the recognition of the emancipatory potential of law.

An important part of ECCHR's work is the Critical Legal Training, in which ECCHR regularly trains and educates human rights activists.

Critical Legal Training[edit]

ECCHR's Critical Legal Training offers participants a platform for the theory and practice of international human rights law. It aims to develop and further a critical analysis of contemporary issues of law and society.[22] ECCHR claims that since 2008 about 400 human rights lawyers from more than 40 countries have been volunteers or trainees at the organisation.[23]

Public Relations and Advocacy[edit]

ECCHR organizes conferences and other public events, conducts media outreach, and publishes web-based and print reports and communications to inform the public about grave human rights violations worldwide.[24]


  1. ^ "European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)". Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  2. ^ "about - ECCHR - EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (en)". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ "How we work". ECCHR. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  4. ^ "universal justice - ECCHR - EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (en)". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  5. ^ Ott, Stephanie. "Syria: 'This case is about saving humanity'". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Trade Union Violence in Colombia as Crime against Humanity | Business & Human Rights Resource Centre". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. ^ Fuchs, Christian (10 June 2017). "CIA: Trump's Darling". Die Zeit (in German). ISSN 0044-2070. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  8. ^ "'Reasonable basis' to believe British soldiers abused captives, prosecutor says | Times & Star". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  9. ^ (, Deutsche Welle, Torture survivors and experts: "Torture doesn't work" | All media content | DW | 27.01.2017, retrieved 4 January 2018
  10. ^ "Menschenrechtler fordern Ende der Aufweichung des Völkerrechts bei Kampfdrohnen". (in German). Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  11. ^ LTO. "Die juristische Presseschau vom 7. September 2017". Legal Tribune Online (in German). Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  12. ^ LTO. "Kriegsverbrecherprozess am OLG Stuttgart". Legal Tribune Online (in German). Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  13. ^ Wright, Paul (15 August 2017). "German doctor jailed for role in secret Nazi paedophile sect Colonia Dignidad in Chile". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  14. ^ "ECCHR asks EU Ombudsman to inquiry into EASO's role at Greek hotspots | European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Spain: Court backs migrants over 'collective expulsion' human rights complaint". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  16. ^ "business and human rights - ECCHR - EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (en)". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Important step in the " Lafarge in Syria " case: Nomination of three investigative judges | Business & Human Rights Resource Centre". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  18. ^ MacAskill, Ewan (18 April 2018). "Italian officials and German firm face legal action over Saudi arms sales". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  19. ^ Müller-Hoff, Linde Bryk und Claudia (2 November 2017). "Strategic Litigation to Address Forced Labour | GRUNDUNDMENSCHENRECHTSBLOG". (in German). Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Human Rights, the Environment and Mining: Holding Transnational Corporations Accountable | OHRH". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Institute for Legal Intervention | ECCHR - EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Education Program - ECCHR - EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (en)". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Alumni Network". Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  24. ^ "How we work". Retrieved 25 July 2018.

External links[edit]