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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.
Review of Hungarian Scholarly Literature

Katalin Sulyok, Science and Judicial Reasoning. The Legitimacy of International Environmental Adjudication (Book Review)

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2020, xxxii + 398 p, ISBN 978-1-108-48966-9

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Authors Lukasz Gruszczynski
Author's information

Lukasz Gruszczynski
Lukasz Gruszczynski: associate professor of law, Kozminski University, Warsaw; research fellow, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Budapest.
Case Notes

The Afterlife of the Relocation of Judicial Cases

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords right to a lawful judge, National Judicial Council, relocation of judicial cases, reasonable time, length of proceedings
Authors Ágnes Czine
AbstractAuthor's information

    The requirement of an independent and impartial tribunal established by law is set out in Article 6(1) ECHR and Article XXVIII(1) of the Fundamental Law of Hungary. The elements of the definition of the right to a fair trial are closely tied to the requirement of judicial independence, impartiality and a court established by law. These guarantees’ purpose is to ensure that the applicant receive a judgment that is not prejudged by other branches of power, such as the influence of the executive, or the arbitrariness of the judiciary. This important human and fundamental rights requirement is monitored by bodies dedicated to the protection of democratic institutions. According to the laws of Hungary, lawsuits may be transferred to another court by the National Office for the Judiciary in order to reduce the workload. This solution has received strong international attention and scrutiny. Although these are actually not in force, they still have repercussions, which must be dealt with by the Constitutional Court. This article seeks to provide insight into the constitutional afterlife of this system of reallocation.


Ágnes Czine
Ágnes Czine: justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Budapest; associate professor of law, and acting rector, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest.
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.
Editorial

Editorial Comments: COVID-19 – EU Citizenship and the Right to Free Movement in a Public Health Crisis

Foreword to Vol. 9 (2021) of the Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Authors Laura Gyeney
Author's information

Laura Gyeney
Laura Gyeney: editor; associate professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

Participation in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office

Member States’ Autonomous Decision or an Obligation?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords European Public Prosecutor’s Office, EPPO, OLAF, European criminal law, Eurojust
Authors Ádám Békés
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of the present study is to examine recent developments concerning the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), focusing on the conflict between the EU and the Member States not participating in the enhanced cooperation setting up the Prosecutor’s Office. To provide an overall picture about EPPO’s future operational relations, the study first presents the EPPO’s future cooperation with other EU bodies and draws some critical conclusions. Based on these reflections, the study aims to discuss the EU’s alleged intention and strategy to cope with and solve the problem of non-participating Member States, assessing the probable role of the Prosecutor’s Office and other related EU bodies, institutions and legal measures in this struggle, while also considering recent declarations of the leaders of EU institutions.


Ádám Békés
Ádám Békés: associate professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; attorney-at-law.
Article

The Case Between Urgenda and the State of the Netherlands

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords climate change, public interest litigation, human rights, ECHR, Netherlands
Authors Otto Spijkers
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Supreme Court of the Netherlands held that the Netherlands’ Government must ensure that, by the end of 2020, greenhouse gas emission levels from the Netherlands are at least a quarter below 1990 levels, otherwise the rights to life and wellbeing, as guaranteed under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR respectively, of the people in the Netherlands are breached. In doing so, the Supreme Court affirmed the reasoning and ruling of the Appeals Court, and distanced itself from the reasoning of the District Court, which was primarily based on domestic tort law.


Otto Spijkers
Otto Spijkers: professor of law, China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies (CIBOS) of Wuhan University.
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.

Tamás Török
PhD candidate, University of Pécs.
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.
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.

Ágnes Kovács-Tahy
Assistant professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.

    The Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (“ATHP”), which has been signed by ASEAN member states, aims to overcome the annual haze problem in the region. Since the treaty came into force on 25 November 2003, the signatory nations urged Indonesia, the dominant contributor to the haze pollution, to ratify the agreement. After taking more than a decade to consider, Indonesia finally ratified the agreement in 2014, evincing its serious effort to prevent future forest fires. This study analyzes important issues of state responsibility and effective legal recourse to cope with the unresolved haze problem. Due to the ineffectiveness of ATHP, this study presents two effective legal measures: utilizing another relevant international treaty that offers an effective dispute settlement mechanism and building international awareness to stop using products from endangered forests.


Dodik Setiawan Nur Heriyanto
Lecturer at Faculty of Law, Islamic University of Indonesia.

Károly Végh
LL.M (Groningen), Legal officer, Hungarian Defence Forces and PhD student at University of Debrecen, Faculty of Law.

Anikó Raisz
Assistant professor, University of Miskolc, Faculty of Law; Political adviser, Ministry of Justice.

Dinah Shelton
Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law, George Washington University Law School; former President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Sándor Szemesi
Associate professor (University of Debrecen, Faculty of Law, Department of European and Public International Law). He received his Ph.D. degree in 2008, his main area of research is the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, with special regard to the prohibition of discrimination and the questions of jurisdiction.
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