Event Reports

The Principle of Subsidiarity in the Satute of the Arab Court for Human Rights


The Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Rule of law Program for the Middle East/North Africa organized with the Lebanese Center for International Studies and the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the Notre Dame University a two-day workshop on the Principle of Subsidiarity in the Statute of the Arab Court for Human Rights. The two-day workshop was addressed to Human Rights legal experts and analyzed the interpretation of Article 18 of the Statute of the Arab Court for Human Rights in the light of the jurisprudence and case law of existing international courts and bodies.

“The rule of law, based on human rights, underpins peace and security. At the international level, the Charter provides the basis for friendly relations between States as sovereign equals. At the national level, justice and the rule of law can prevent and mitigate violence and conflict by providing peaceful channels for the resolution of grievances.” (UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson)

The principle of subsidiarity is at the essence of International Justice. It is the corollary of another fundamental principle, the State sovereignty.

On the one hand, States are normally reluctant to let any alien body control their acts or practice. This is the reason why the principle of subsidiarity exists. Thus, a good comprehension of its pros and cons helps reassuring the State itself and pushes towards the ratification of the Statute.

On the other hand, the non-exhaustion of internal remedies is often caused by non-admissibility of a case. Indeed, internal remedies are always better than International ones, and domestic protection should be enhanced and strengthened. However, this principle can be interpreted differently, and it is sometimes quite confusing to define what constitutes as an internal remedy, or if all remedies have been exhausted.

The workshop objectives were to pursue the dialogue and thinking effort around international law principles enshrined in the Statute of the Arab Court for Human Rights, as well as decreasing the mistrust of some parties about human rights justice by showing all existing safeguards which guarantee that abuse of the Court is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, providing elements that indirectly encourage Lebanon to ratify the Statute of the ACHR and empower legal experts either for future studies, or future work with the ACHR and stimulate legal academic research that will constitute a reference for future developments.

The Workshop on the principle of subsidiarity in the statute of the Arab Court for Human Rights started with a presentation of Dr. Kasey McCall-Smith, Director of LLM Human Rights program at University Edinburgh. The principle of subsidiarity and principle of exhaustion of local remedies, its theory, origins and history were particularly elaborated by her. Moreover, she drew ties with the principle of state sovereignty and showed applications by other Human Right Courts. After the discussion, Dr. Claire Dubois-Hamdi, the legal expert at the European Court for Human Rights explained the application of the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of exhaustion of local remedies by the European Court of Human Rights. Dr. Karim El-Mufti, International Law lecturer, director of the Legal Human Rights Clinic Universite La Sagesse, Expert and Researchers in legal and political issues, presented the difference between the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of complementary, and the way it’s dealt with by international criminal courts with case-law of the ICC and Ad Hoc Tribunal (ICTY and STL). After lunch and the welcoming words of Dr. Maan Bou-Saber, Dean of the Faculty of Law of NDU, Dr. Kasey McCall-Smith returned to the panel and provided case-law of Human Rights conventional and charter-based bodies. The first day was finalized by the distribution of four cases in two sessions for the participants, who distributed and prepared the cases for the moot courts. The second day started in the late afternoon with oral pleading session and the proclamation of results. As can be seen in the pictures a winner team was chosen and handed the trophy. Nonetheless, all participants received certificates for successfully taking part in this highly interesting and informative workshop.