Robert R. Spano

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Robert R. Spano
Judge Robert Spano.jpg
Born Robert Ragnar Spano
(1972-08-27) 27 August 1972 (age 45)[1]
Reykjavík, Iceland, IS
Residence Strasbourg, France
Nationality Icelandic/Italian
Alma mater Oxford University, University of Iceland
Occupation Judge of the European Court of Human Rights

Robert R. Spano (born 27 August 1972) is an Icelandic/Italian jurist, professor and Judge of the European Court of Human Rights. Before beginning his service at the Court he served provisionally as Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Iceland.

On 25 June 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elected Spano a judge of the European Court of Human Rights with respect to Iceland. He received an absolute majority of votes cast by parliamentarians.[2] His nine-year term of office began on 1 November 2013. At a sitting of the Plenary Court on 20 March 2017, Judge Spano was elected President of Section from 1 May 2017. He presides in Section II of the Court.

Early life and education[edit]

Spano was born in Reykjavík on 27 August 1972. He graduated with a Candidatus Juris degree from the University of Iceland in 1997 and a Magister Juris degree with distinction in European and Comparative law from the University of Oxford (University College) on 5 August 2000. At Oxford, Spano was awarded the Clifford Chance Prize (proxime accessit) and the Civil Procedure Prize for his scholastic achievements.


In September 1997, Spano was appointed Deputy District Court Judge in the District Court of Reykjanes. In August 1998 he was employed as a legal adviser in the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland and was appointed Deputy to the Ombudsman in 2001, serving in that role until 2004. In 2003, the Minister of Justice appointed Spano as Chairman of the Standing Committee of Experts in Criminal Law. In 2006, Spano was awarded the Rector's Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In November 2006, Spano was appointed a full professor of law. In September 2007 he was elected Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Iceland and was subsequently elected Dean of the Faculty, serving in that role from 2010 to 2013.[citation needed]

In 2007, the Prime Minister of Iceland appointed Spano to chair a special commission of experts tasked with investigating human rights abuses in child care institutions from 1947 to 1992. The commission's work took five years and produced several reports. In 2010, Spano was elected by the General Assembly of the National Church of Iceland to chair a commission of experts entrusted with investigating the reactions and procedures by the Church when allegations of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the Bishop of Iceland surfaced in 1996. The commission published its report in the summer of 2011.[citation needed]

On 1 January 2009, the Speakers' Committee of Parliament appointed Spano as Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland in a provisional capacity. Spano served as Parliamentary Ombudsman until 1 July 2010, but continued to serve as Ombudsman on an ad hoc basis in 2011 and 2012. On 1 July 2012, Spano was appointed an ad hoc Judge of the EFTA Court in Luxembourg by the ESA/Court Committee. In April 2012, Spano was appointed the Icelandic Delegate to the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDCP) of the Council of Europe (COE). Also, he served as an Independent Expert to the Lanzarote Committee of the COE, set up on the basis of the European Convention on Protection for Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. On 1 March 2013, Spano was again appointed Parliamentary Ombudsman on a full-time basis, serving until 1 October 2013.[3]

Having been elected a Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Spano took up office in Strasbourg on 1 November 2013.[citation needed]


Judge Spano has written extensively in the fields of human rights law, constitutional law, the interpretation of statutes and criminal procedure. His scholarship has dealt mainly with the impact of the European Convention of Human Rights on domestic law, especially in relation to issues in criminal law and criminal procedure. In his writings on the interpretation of statutes, Spano has argued for a normative theory of textualism that views the interpretive enterprise holistically in terms of assessing the internal and external context of the statutory text. Furthermore, he has analysed the conceptual elements of the teleological (purposive) form of statutory interpretation.[citation needed]

Upon assuming office in Strasbourg, Judge Spano has given lectures and published articles on the work of the European Court of Human Rights, in particular on the relationship of the Court and national courts, questioning whether the Strasbourg Court is entering an "Age of Subsidiarity". Judge Spano has also published articles and lectured widely in recent years on the Internet and human rights.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Judge Spano speaks Icelandic, English, Italian, French and Danish. He is married to Icelandic artist and teacher Arna Gná Gunnarsdóttir. They have four children.[citation needed]

Judge Spano has interest in his family, friends, personal fitness and books. He is a runner and plays golf. [4] Judge Spano is a popular figure in Iceland and has regularly been mentioned in the tabloids and online. In 2014 he was mentioned as one of 21 Icelanders with the most beautiful skin by Smartland which is the most popular human interest website in Iceland.[5]

Judge Spano is an avid singer and has won awards for his performances.[6]

Judge Spano was a promising amateur bowling player. He won numerous competitions at home and internationally, both in individual and team tournaments.[7] In 1988 Judge Spano won four trophies in a bowling tournament in Sunderland and Hull, England.[8]

See also[edit]


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