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Hungarian State Practice

An Institution for a Sustainable Future

The Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords intergenerational equity, rights of future generations, ombudsman for future generations, Hungary, right to environment
Authors Kinga Debisso and Marcel Szabó
AbstractAuthor's information

    The purpose of this article is to give an insight into the process leading up to the establishment of the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations and its tasks: an almost 15-year-old, unique legal institution aiming to protect the interests of future generations. The Ombudsman for Future Generations is an example for the institutionalization of the principle of intergenerational justice. The article aims to introduce the characteristics and strengths of the current institutional design and the structural features that allow for the successful operation of the Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary. Following an introduction to the political and historical context in which the institution was established, the article describes in detail the Ombudsman’s work, responsibilities, most important functions, elaborating on some examples of its best practices and achievements. Finally, the article touches upon how the example and experiences of the Hungarian institution may be valuable for other countries in Europe and beyond.


Kinga Debisso
Kinga Debisso: political advisor, Ministry of Justice, Budapest.

Marcel Szabó
Marcel Szabó: professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Budapest.

Tejas Rao
Tejas Rao, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M. (Cantab.), associate fellow, Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), Montreal, Canada.
Hungarian State Practice

The Public Trust Doctrine, the Non-Derogation Principle and the Protection of Future Generations

The Hungarian Constitutional Court’s Review of the Forest Act

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords public trust, non-derogation, Article P, Constitutional Court of Hungary, future generations
Authors Katalin Sulyok
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article analyzes the doctrinal findings of the Hungarian Constitutional Court with respect to the constitutional protection afforded to future generations in the Fundamental Law. It focuses on Decision No. 14/2020. (VII. 6.) AB in which the Constitutional Court abolished an amendment to the Forest Act for infringing the right to a healthy environment and the environmental interests of future generations as enshrined in Article P of the Fundamental Law. On this occasion, the Constitutional Court for the first time explicitly recognized that Article P embodies the public trust doctrine; and stressed that it confers fiduciary duties on the State to act as a trustee over the natural heritage of the nation for the benefit of future generations, which limits the executive’s discretion to exploit and regulate such resources. This article puts the Hungarian constitutional public trust in a comparative perspective by exploring the origins, role and functioning of similar constitutional public trust provisions in other jurisdictions. This is followed by setting out the normative principles derived by the Hungarian Constitutional Court in its previous practice from Article P, such as the non-derogation principle, the principle of inter-generational equity, the imperative of long-term planning, economical use of resources and the precautionary principle. The article then sets out the legal bases featured in the ex post constitutional challenge brought against the amendment of the Forest Act by the Ombudsman, and the Constitutional Court’s reasoning. It concludes with offering some wider lessons for the judicial enforcement of long-term environmental goals vis-á-vis short-term economic private interests.


Katalin Sulyok
Katalin Sulyok: senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest; chief legal advisor, Office of the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations, Budapest.
Human Rights Practice Review

Kosovo

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Sabiha Shala
Author's information

Sabiha Shala
Prof. Assoc. Dr. at Law Faculty, University of Haxhi Zeka, Kosovo.
Literature Review

The 2019 Henry Wheaton Prize

An Introduction to Katalin Sulyok’s Award-Winning PhD Dissertation

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Henry Wheaton prize, environmental disputes, scientific argument, judicial interaction, burden of proof
Authors Gabriella Szamek
AbstractAuthor's information

    Katalin Sulyok, senior lecturer at ELTE Law School, Department of International Law was awarded the Henry Wheaton Prize by the Institut de Droit International in 2019; this prize is awarded by an international jury to the best English, German, French, Italian or Spanish language PhD dissertation in the field of international environmental law. This article presents and evaluates the major findings of the award-winning dissertation entitled ‘Scientific Engagement of International Courts and Tribunals in Environmental Disputes – Science and the Legitimacy of Adjudicatory Reasoning’.


Gabriella Szamek
Gabriella Szamek: chief legal advisor, Secretariat of the Ombudsman for Future Generations, Budapest.
Case Notes

The Hungarian Constitutional Court’s Decision on the Protection of Groundwater

Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB of the Constitutional Court of Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords environmental impact assessment, precautionary principle, non-derogation principle, Constitutional Court of Hungary, groundwater
Authors Gábor Kecskés
AbstractAuthor's information

    On 28 August 2018, the Constitutional Court of Hungary delivered a milestone decision [Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB] in relation to the protection of groundwater with reference to the general protection of the environment as a constitutionally protected value. The President of the Republic pointed out in his petition to the Constitutional Court that two sections of the draft legislation are contrary to the Fundamental Law by violating Articles B(1), P(1) and XXI(1) of the Fundamental Law by permitting water abstraction with much lower standards. Adopted by the majority along with concurring and dissenting opinions, the decision is an important judicial achievement in the general framework of constitutional water and environmental protection. It also confirms the non-derogation principle elaborated by the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court had the opportunity and an ‘open mind’ to take into consideration numerous sources of scientific professional evidence on the stock of water and groundwater abstraction. The decision was acclaimed for its environmental orientation, and even more, for developing the 25-year old standards of constitutional review in environmental matters by elaborating on the implicit substance of several articles enshrined in the new Fundamental Law (e.g. Articles P and XXI).


Gábor Kecskés
Gábor Kecské: research fellow, Eötvös Loránd Research Network, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Budapest; associate professor of law, Széchenyi István University, Győr.
Article

National Courts and the Enforcement of EU Law

Hungarian Experiences

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, supremacy, mutual trust, constitutional identity, preliminary ruling
Authors András Osztovits and András Zs. Varga
AbstractAuthor's information

    The present study was originally meant for the FIDE XXIX Congress, which provided an excellent opportunity to review how the acquis communautaire has been implemented by ordinary courts as well as the Constitutional Court of Hungary since the country’s accession to the EU. As it is widely known, national courts play a key role in enforcing rights and obligations under EU law, so that the application of EU law remains uniform in all the Member States, in compliance with the jurisprudence of the CJEU. On the other hand, national constitutional courts must take a position more frequently and emphatically on issues related to national sovereignty: in defining what comes within the scope of the EU’s legislative competence and what remains under the control of national constitutional and legislative power. The relationship between national ordinary courts, constitutional courts and the CJEU, as well as the national implementation of Luxembourg case-law may be analyzed in a variety of ways and from different perspectives. The main principles governing EU law (such as direct effect, supremacy, mutual trust) have been developed in increasing detail over the years. Since their effect and practical consequences are outstanding, in what follows, we are shall explore these issues first in the light of Hungarian case-law. In the context of the principle of mutual trust, the discussion surrounding the independence of national courts is gaining impetus. Therefore, we will also touch upon this issue in our study. Finally, as far as the issue of effective enforcement of EU law is concerned, we shall present the Hungarian experience related to the preliminary ruling procedure, which is the most important element linking the CJEU and national courts. In this respect, we approach the issue from the domestic angle, focusing primarily on how exceptions to the obligation to submit a request for preliminary ruling have been clarified on the basis of the guidelines of the Curia of Hungary and the Constitutional Court of Hungary.


András Osztovits
András Osztovits: professor of law, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest; judge, Curia of Hungary, Budapest.

András Zs. Varga
András Zs. Varga: professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Budapest.
Article

The Precautionary Principle in the Fundamental Law of Hungary

Judicial Activism or an Inherent Fundamental Principle? An Evaluation of Constitutional Court Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB on the Protection of Groundwater

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, precautionary principle, judicial activism, Article P of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, constitutional protection of the environment
Authors Marcel Szabó
AbstractAuthor's information

    Acting upon the motion of the President of the Republic, the Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in its Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB that the regulation which would have allowed establishing new wells up to the depth of 80m without a license or notification was contrary to the Fundamental Law. The Constitutional Court found in its decision that the regulation would endanger the volume and quality of underground water in a way that, considering the precautionary principle, was no longer compatible with the protection of natural resources and cultural artefacts forming the common heritage of the nation as laid down in Article P(1) of the Fundamental Law or Article XXI(1) of the same on the right to a healthy environment. It was in this decision that the Constitutional Court first outlined in detail the constitutional significance of the precautionary principle, with this principle forming the central part of the decision’s reasoning. Within the framework of this study I examine whether this decision based on the precautionary principle can be considered the ‘extraction’ of what is inherently present in the Fundamental Law or on the contrary, whether it was an activist approach imposing the principle on the Fundamental Law.


Marcel Szabó
Professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Editorial

Legal, Ethical and Economical Impacts of Intergenerational Equity (Editorial Comments)

Foreword to Vol. 7 (2019) of the Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Authors Marcel Szabó
Author's information

Marcel Szabó
Editor-in-chief; professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Article

The Case of the Hungarian Constitutional Court with Environmental Principles

From Non-Derogation to the Precautionary Approach

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, environmental issues, non-derogation principle, precautionary principle, Article P of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, right to a healthy environment
Authors Gyula Bándi
AbstractAuthor's information

    Principles influence legislation, implementation and enforcement of the law to a great extent. This is especially the case with those fields of law, which are relatively new and subject to constant changes, such as environmental law. Principles have legal value, among others to fill legal gaps or to assist proper interpretation. It is always expedient to have a high-level judicial forum for legal interpretation at national level this would be a constitutional court or a supreme court. Legal interpretation can be particularly tricky when principles are combined with human rights. Constitutional courts, such as the Hungarian Constitutional Court are the preferred choice for such legal interpretation, since human rights are normally enshrined in the constitutions. In Hungary both the previous (1989) Constitution and the currently effective Fundamental Law of 2011 contain express and rather similar provisions regarding the right to environment, the content of which need clarification. Beside this similarity, the Fundamental Law has several other additional provisions supporting interpretation in the interests of the environment. This paper only presents – as examples of necessary interpretation – two principles to illustrate what the right to environment actually means. These are the non-regression (non-derogation) and the precautionary principles, which will be described both in general and in light of their current Hungarian interpretation. Non-regression (non-derogation) basically represents a decent minimum that should not be contravened, while precautionary principle is more in flux, a moving target, focusing on likely consequences, with scientific uncertainty at its core. Both principles will be introduced through the decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court.


Gyula Bándi
Jean Monnet professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; Ombudsman for future generations.
Article

Constitutional Narcissism on the Couch of Psychoanalysis

Constitutional Unamendability in Portugal and Spain

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords unamendable/ eternity clauses, de jure and de facto constitutional change, constitutional narcissism, foundational design, helicopter founding fathers, constitutional alma mater
Authors Catarina Santos Botelho
AbstractAuthor's information

    Comparing the Portuguese Constitution, which has the longest unamendable clause in the world, with the silence of the Spanish Constitution regarding the language of eternity is indeed a fascinating exercise. Each state’s quantum of constitutional change seems to be quite different. One can wonder how two neighbouring states that share a heavy history of right-wing dictatorships and transitioned to democracy forty years ago opted for such dissimilar constitutional designs. However, appearances are often misleading, and an effort should be done to unveil this curious mismatch.
    Both legal orders suffer from what I call constitutional narcissism, which manifests itself through the urge to perpetuate the foundational constitutional moment. Unamendable clauses (Portugal) and quasi-unamendable clauses (Spain) recast one of constitutional theory’s inner paradoxes: Can the constituent power of the people be petrified in one historical constituent decision and constrain future democratic transitions? And what if a volatile contemporary majority seeks to undermine the democratic process and run against the constitutional DNA achievements of the last centuries?
    Even if the original version of the Portuguese Constitution prohibited several provisions from ever being amended, some of these provisions were indeed modified or removed in the 1989 constitutional amendment process. This occurred without major disagreement from the political organs, scholars, or the judiciary. Therefore, the vexata quaestio remains unanswered: Given their obsolescence or hindrance towards good governance, should entrenchment clauses be eliminated de jure (through a channelled constitutional amendment process, such as the double amendment procedure) or de facto (through a revolutionary process materialized outside of the constitutional framework)?


Catarina Santos Botelho
Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Constitutional Law at the Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Email: cbotelho@porto.ucp.pt. I thank Paul Kahn, Nuno Garoupa, Richard Albert, Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro, Yaniv Roznai, Ana Teresa Ribeiro, and Luís Heleno Terrinha for their very helpful comments.

Gyula Bándi
Professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; Ombudsman for Future Generations.

Marcel Szabó
Doctor of Philosophy in Legal and Political Sciences, Ombudsman for Future Generations and Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary; Chair of the Network of Institutions for Future Generations; Head of the European Law Department at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; former Agent of Hungary in the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros case.

Kinga Debisso
Chief Legal Advisor at the Office of the Ombudsman for Future Generations of Hungary; Junior Research Fellow at Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.

Petra Lea Láncos
Adjunct professor, Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Faculty of Law; Legal advisor to the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations.

Agnes Lux
PhD candidate, Deputy-head of the Equal Opportunities and Children’s Rights Department, Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.

Tamás Wetzel
Deputy secretary of state responsible for Hungarians living abroad.

Kinga Debisso
Lecturer, Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Faculty of Law; Legal adviser to the Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations.

Petra Lea Láncos
Adjunct professor at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University of Budapest, Faculty of Law at the Department for European Law. She is also member of the secretariat of the Hungarian Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Interests of Future Generations (“Green Ombudsman”).
Article

Access_open Techno-regulation and law: rule, exception or state of exception?

A comment to Han Somsen and Luigi Corrias

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2011
Keywords code, citizenship, trans-generational justice, agency, ethics and politics
Authors Oliver W. Lembcke
AbstractAuthor's information

    Luigi Corrias challenged Han Somsen’s plea for an effective regulation in the wake of an impending ecological catastrophe. This article takes up some of the arguments that have been exchanged: First, the paper criticises Corrias’s call for an ‘eco-logos’ as an ethical evasion of the political dimension that regulations aiming at a radical policy change necessarily entail. Secondly, it disputes the assumption that Somsen’s argument invites the notion of Carl Schmitt’s state of exception. Thirdly, the paper discusses the possible effects that code law might have on the concepts of agency (lack of autonomy) and citizenship (loss of justice).


Oliver W. Lembcke
Oliver W. Lembcke is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena.
Article

Acquisition of Property in the Legal Regime of Celestial Bodies

The Legal Status of Property Rights on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 1996
Authors G. Gál

G. Gál
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