Honorable guests, your excellencies representatives from 120 states of the United Nations, UNESCO, Council of Europe, NATO, Assembly of the European Regions, welcome to ThessISMUN 2015!
It is a tradition in ThessISMUN to honor a greek personality who has been distinguished in international fora and has contributed to the development of international law. A personality that has left his or her mark to the history of the organisation. You can find all these personalities and their work at the site of ThessISMUN.
The reason behind this tradition is our will to get you to know or meet some of these personalities if not all of them and to get to know their accomplishments – as a good example for you – your plans and your future carriers. It is a unique oppurtunity for you all to meet this personality in person and get to know his contribution.
This year’s personality that we honor is Dr. Linos Alexandre Sicilianos, Professor of International Law, at the Law Faculty of Athens, who has been representing Greece in many Committees and in different International Organizations in the past and he is since 2011 the Greece Judge at the ECtHR in Strasbourg.
Judge Sicilianos was born in Athens in May 1960 to an artistic and well educated family. His father George is considered one of the greatest greek symphonic composers and the third more important composer of the 20th Centure (after Kalomiris and Skalkotas) and his mother Elli Giotopoulou – Sicilianou is a university professor of history, retired as a Vice-Rector of the Ionian University.
Growing in such an environment, Judge Sicilianos couldn’t help but follow the musical path. He started to study the violin to a professional level, at the same time with his law studies, choosing to focus to the law in the end.
He graduated in 1983, he went to Strasbourg for his Master’s degree and in 1990 he completed his PhD with honors from the same University. His doctoral thesis has the title ‘’Les reactions decentralise al’illicite: les contre-mesures la legitime defence’’ and was published in Paris and received two awards, the Guggenheim award and that of George Tenekides.
Soon after he started his academic carreer at the Law Faculty of Kapodistrian University, elected as full professor in 2010. At the same time he started his international carreer as a member in UN Committees such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in which he also served as Vice-Chairman (2004-2006), member at the Commission of Human Rights (2005), with the Greek Delegation at the General Assembly of the United Nations (1996-2001), at the working group of Experts on Peope of African Descent.
Then at regional level within the framework of the Council of Europe, he served as member and former chairman of the Committee of Experts for the Development of Procedures for the protection of Human Rights (1997-2010), Independent Expert to missions in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Czech Repurblic, Moldova, Ukrainje, Albania, Azerbaijan (1995-2003).
At the EU level: he was member of the Administrative Board (2007-2012) and Executive Board (2009-2011) of the Fundamental Rights Agency, member of the EU Network of Independent Experts in the field of Fundamental Rights (2002-2006)
His deep knowledge on International law and Human Rights led him to teach as a visiting professor in a number of very prestigious universities and academies, starting with the Hague Academy of International Law, where he was the Director of studies, Director of the Center for Studies and Research and member of the Curatorium of the Hague Academy of International Law since 2010.
Since 1996,he has deliverd courses at Pantheon – Sorbonne/Paris I and II, Oxford University Faculty of Law, University College of London, Graduate Institute of International Studies/Geneva, University of Strasbourg, Aix-Marseilles III, Bordeaux IV, National University of Ireland, International Institute of Human Rights Strasbourg.
Being very active all these yeas in the field of Human Rights, among others, his election as the Greek Judge at the European Court of Human Rights was more than an expectation.
He was elected with absolute majority on the 5th October 2010 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, among 3 candidates proposed by the Greek government and took the office on 18 May 2011, as the youngest greek judge at the ECtHR, succeeding Christos Rozakis, Emeritus Professor of Kapodistrian University and former Vice-President of the ECHR, whom we have also honored in ThessISMUN 2013.
Judge Sicilianos is author and editor of numerous studies in General International Law, International Protection of Human Rights and International Organizsations, including four monographs, apart from his doctoral thesis, the book on the ‘’authorization by the Security Council to use force’’ (2003) and the ‘’Human dimension of International law’’ (2010) a book well known to greek law students, where he explaines how international law offers the legal basis for the international protection of human rights and at the same time human rights play the role of an important factor in the development of international law.
He has published 70 articles in almost all International Journals, such as European Journal of International Law, Annuaire Francais de droit international, Revue Generale de droit International Public, Revue belge de droit international, Revue trimestrielle des droits de l’homme, Revue hellenique de droit international, the Hague Journal of International Law, Human Rights Law Journal, Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, etc.
While at the same time is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of even more international journas, such as the European Journal of International Law (2007-2012), the Revue trimestrielle des droits de l’homme, the European Yearbook of Human Rights and the European Journal of Human Rights.
His latest contribution is the commentary of the ECHR, published in 2011, a unique volume for the greek bibliography on Human Rights a precious book for all jurists and law students.
Talking about human rights in general Judge Sicilianos is of the opinion that threre are 3 phases of human rights, namely recognition, protection and prevention.
Preventing Human Rights violations has gradually been receiving a strong legal base.
On this basis he tries to help the greek judiciary for the better implementation of the Convetnion as a mean for the elimination of greek applications to Strasbourg Court. He believes that the increase of individual applications against Greece is due to different factors, namely:
- slow system of justice
- the conditions in the prisons
- cases relating to different cultures, religions, ethnicities
- to the economic crisis
The sollution to all the above is the role courts can play judging in conformity with the European Convention and the jurisprudence of the Court. This is, after all an obligation deriving from our Constitution, otherwise our country violates our commitments and the rule of International Law.
Judge Sicilianos has been very active the last 3 years, organising meetings with Judges of the Greek high and supreme courts while teaching at the National School of Magistrates in Thessaloniki about the need for the implementation of the European Convention.
According to Judge Sicilianos, ECHR is the most important international legal act protecting human rights, bounding all 47 European states, based on the fundamental values which consist the European public order, the basic principles of true democracy and democratic regime.
A pioneer act since the beggining (1950), the ECHR was the first to recognize the individual petition against the state which violates human rights.
Judge Sicilianos believes that the ECHR plays also a very important role for the unity of International law and in particular for the overall approach of the rules about human rights as implemented by different international bodies of control and takes under consideration other rules of international law as well as international jurisprudence.
The jurisdiction of the Court has a sound legal basis deriving from the Convention and custom, but what he considers important is the supervisory mechanism for the execution of judgements of the ECtHR – with the support of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe – a unique mechanism at the international level which makes the European system of human rights protection as strong as it is. The most effective of all other systems.
Judge Sicilianos believes that there is a lot of room and questions remaining open as to the role of the Court in the event of a failure to execute a judgement.
So, according to him the jurisdiction of the Court remains complementary in relation to that of the Committee of Ministers. He also states that the Court’s case law will have to be developed and fine-tuned with a view to the better execution of its judgements, it is also essential to preserve the institutional balance provided for in the Convention and to leave states in principle a certain latitude in order to decide on and give effect to the most appropriate measures of execution.
I am certain that our Greek Judge will write his own history to the case law of the Strasbourg court.
I wish him every success in his difficult task especially on the implementation or as he puts it, on the prevetion from the violation of human rights.
I do wish him to reach one day, the seat of the President of the Court and in the future a seat at the International Court in the Hague.
Thank you for being with us today.
Professor of International Law
Academic Officer of TessisMUN 2001-2014