In August 2020, Professor Martin Scheinin joined the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights as a British Academy Global Professor. His research project “Addressing the Digital Realm through the Grammar of Human Rights Law” will run for four academic years (2020-2024). The project will also support the work of a Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Oliver Butler.
Professor Scheinin joined the Bonavero Institute from the European University Institute where he has been Professor of International Law and Human Rights since 2008. He is the author of numerous books and articles concerning international and European human rights law, international courts and tribunals, the law of treaties, as well as comparative constitutional law. He was the leader of the EU-funded research project SURVEILLE that in 2012-2015 developed a multidisciplinary methodology to assess holistically the security benefits, cost efficiency, moral harm and human rights intrusion of a wide range of surveillance technologies, including those employed in relation to the threat of terrorism. Besides his academic expertise, Professor Scheinin will brings to the Bonavero Institute his extensive experience in the practice of human rights law, having served on the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1997-2004), as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism (2005-2011) and as a member of the Scientific Committee of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (since 2018).
The project will also address a range of interconnected challenges related to the exponential growth of information created, communicated, stored and exploited in electronic and overwhelmingly digitised form. These challenges are societal, and they have distinct and important legal dimensions that will be addressed in respect of human rights law through one overarching research question: Is human rights law, as it has developed within the post-1945 conceptual framework, capable of addressing the major challenges that characterize the current digital information age. The programme of work will convene a series of annual workshops between conceptual thinkers, experts and policy-makers and result in several journal articles across its wide range of sub-themes, culminating in a final conference and an academic monograph in 2024. The research examines whether both the moral principles underpinning human rights law and existing human rights law are capable of addressing the new and emerging challenges concerning the digital realm. The research project includes a focus on some of the human rights issues that arise from state responses to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, in particular questions relating to digital surveillance, privacy and discrimination.