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Article

Access_open Big Data Ethics: A Life Cycle Perspective

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 1 2021
Trefwoorden big data, big data analysis, data life cycle, ethics, AI
Auteurs Simon Vydra, Andrei Poama, Sarah Giest e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The adoption of big data analysis in the legal domain is a recent but growing trend that highlights ethical concerns not just with big data analysis, as such, but also with its deployment in the legal domain. This article systematically analyses five big data use cases from the legal domain utilising a pluralistic and pragmatic mode of ethical reasoning. In each case we analyse what happens with data from its creation to its eventual archival or deletion, for which we utilise the concept of ‘data life cycle’. Despite the exploratory nature of this article and some limitations of our approach, the systematic summary we deliver depicts the five cases in detail, reinforces the idea that ethically significant issues exist across the entire big data life cycle, and facilitates understanding of how various ethical considerations interact with one another throughout the big data life cycle. Furthermore, owing to its pragmatic and pluralist nature, the approach is potentially useful for practitioners aiming to interrogate big data use cases.


Simon Vydra
Simon Vydra is a Researcher at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Andrei Poama
Andrei Poama is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Sarah Giest
Sarah Giest is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Alex Ingrams
Alex Ingrams is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Bram Klievink
Bram Klievink is Professor of Digitization and Public Policy at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open The Influence of Strategic Culture on Legal Justifications Comparing British and German Parliamentary Debates Regarding the War against ISIS

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2021
Trefwoorden strategic culture, international law, ISIS, parliamentary debates, interdisciplinarity
Auteurs Martin Hock
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article presents an interdisciplinary comparison of British and German legal arguments concerning the justification of the use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It is situated in the broader framework of research on strategic culture and the use of international law as a tool for justifying state behaviour. Thus, a gap in political science research is analysed: addressing legal arguments as essentially political in their usage. The present work questions whether differing strategic cultures will lead to a different use of legal arguments. International legal theory and content analysis are combined to sort arguments into the categories of instrumentalism, formalism and natural law. To do so, a data set consisting of all speeches with regard to the fight against ISIS made in both parliaments until the end of 2018 is analysed. It is shown that Germany and the UK, despite their varying strategic cultures, rely on similar legal justifications to a surprisingly large extent.


Martin Hock
Martin Hock is Research Associate at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.
Article

Access_open The Role of the Vienna Rules in the Interpretation of the ECHR A Normative Basis or a Source of Inspiration?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2021
Trefwoorden European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, techniques of interpretation, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Auteurs Eszter Polgári
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The interpretive techniques applied by the European Court of Human Rights are instrumental in filling the vaguely formulated rights-provisions with progressive content, and their use provoked widespread criticism. The article argues that despite the scarcity of explicit references to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, all the ECtHR’s methods and doctrines of interpretation have basis in the VCLT, and the ECtHR has not developed a competing framework. The Vienna rules are flexible enough to accommodate the interpretive rules developed in the ECHR jurisprudence, although effectiveness and evolutive interpretation is favoured – due to the unique nature of Convention – over the more traditional means of interpretation, such as textualism. Applying the VCLT as a normative framework offers unique ways of reconceptualising some of the much-contested means of interpretation in order to increase the legitimacy of the ECtHR.


Eszter Polgári
Eszter Polgári, PhD, is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Studies of the Central European University in Austria.
Article

Access_open Can Non-discrimination Law Change Hearts and Minds?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden law and society, social change, discrimination, non-discrimination law, positive action
Auteurs Anita Böcker
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    A question that has preoccupied sociolegal scholars for ages is whether law can change ‘hearts and minds’. This article explores whether non-discrimination law can create social change, and, more particularly, whether it can change attitudes and beliefs as well as external behaviour. The first part examines how sociolegal scholars have theorised about the possibility and desirability of using law as an instrument of social change. The second part discusses the findings of empirical research on the social working of various types of non-discrimination law. What conclusions can be drawn about the ability of non-discrimination law to create social change? What factors influence this ability? And can non-discrimination law change people’s hearts and minds as well as their behaviour? The research literature does not provide an unequivocal answer to the latter question. However, the overall picture emerging from the sociolegal literature is that law is generally more likely to bring about changes in external behaviour and that it can influence attitudes and beliefs only indirectly, by altering the situations in which attitudes and opinions are formed.


Anita Böcker
Anita Böcker is associate professor of Sociology of Law at Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Positive State Obligations under European Law: A Tool for Achieving Substantive Equality for Sexual Minorities in Europe

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden Positive obligations, sexual minorities, sexual orientation, European law, human rights
Auteurs Alina Tryfonidou
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article seeks to examine the development of positive obligations under European law in the specific context of the rights of sexual minorities. It is clear that the law should respect and protect all sexualities and diverse intimate relationships without discrimination, and for this purpose it needs to ensure that sexual minorities can not only be free from state interference when expressing their sexuality in private, but that they should be given the right to express their sexuality in public and to have their intimate relationships legally recognised. In addition, sexual minorities should be protected from the actions of other individuals, when these violate their legal and fundamental human rights. Accordingly, in addition to negative obligations, European law must impose positive obligations towards sexual minorities in order to achieve substantive equality for them. The article explains that, to date, European law has imposed a number of such positive obligations; nonetheless, there is definitely scope for more. It is suggested that European law should not wait for hearts and minds to change before imposing additional positive obligations, especially since this gives the impression that the EU and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) are condoning or disregarding persistent discrimination against sexual minorities.


Alina Tryfonidou
Alina Tryfonidou is Professor of Law, University of Reading.
Article

Access_open A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation under International Human Rights Law

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden Dehumanisation, International Human Rights Law, Positive State obligations, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
Auteurs Stephanie Eleanor Berry
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    International human rights law (IHRL) was established in the aftermath of the Second World War to prevent a reoccurrence of the atrocities committed in the name of fascism. Central to this aim was the recognition that out-groups are particularly vulnerable to rights violations committed by the in-group. Yet, it is increasingly apparent that out-groups are still subject to a wide range of rights violations, including those associated with mass atrocities. These rights violations are facilitated by the dehumanisation of the out-group by the in-group. Consequently, this article argues that the creation of IHRL treaties and corresponding monitoring mechanisms should be viewed as the first step towards protecting out-groups from human rights violations. By adopting the lens of dehumanisation, this article demonstrates that if IHRL is to achieve its purpose, IHRL monitoring mechanisms must recognise the connection between dehumanisation and rights violations and develop a positive State obligation to counter dehumanisation. The four treaties explored in this article, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, all establish positive State obligations to prevent hate speech and to foster tolerant societies. These obligations should, in theory, allow IHRL monitoring mechanisms to address dehumanisation. However, their interpretation of the positive State obligation to foster tolerant societies does not go far enough to counter unconscious dehumanisation and requires more detailed elaboration.


Stephanie Eleanor Berry
Stephanie Eleanor Berry is Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law, University of Sussex.
Article

Access_open How Far Should the State Go to Counter Prejudice?

A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden prejudice, soft paternalism, empathy, liberalism, employment discrimination, access to goods and services
Auteurs Ioanna Tourkochoriti
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article argues that it is legitimate for the state to practice soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds in order to prevent behaviour that is discriminatory. Liberals accept that it is not legitimate for the state to intervene in order to change how people think because ideas and beliefs are wrong in themselves. It is legitimate for the state to intervene with the actions of a person only when there is a risk of harm to others and when there is a threat to social coexistence. Preventive action of the state is legitimate if we consider the immaterial and material harm that discrimination causes. It causes harm to the social standing of the person, psychological harm, economic and existential harm. All these harms threaten peaceful social coexistence. This article traces a theory of permissible government action. Research in the areas of behavioural psychology, neuroscience and social psychology indicates that it is possible to bring about a change in hearts and minds. Encouraging a person to adopt the perspective of the person who has experienced discrimination can lead to empathetic understanding. This, can lead a person to critically evaluate her prejudice. The paper argues that soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds is legitimate in order to prevent harm to others. It attempts to legitimise state coercion in order to eliminate prejudice and broader social patterns of inequality and marginalisation. And it distinguishes between appropriate and non-appropriate avenues the state could pursue in order to eliminate prejudice. Policies towards eliminating prejudice should address the rational and the emotional faculties of a person. They should aim at using methods and techniques that focus on persuasion and reduce coercion. They should raise awareness of what prejudice is and how it works in order to facilitate well-informed voluntary decisions. The version of soft paternalism towards changing minds and attitudes defended in this article makes it consistent with liberalism.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
Ioanna Tourkochoriti is Lecturer Above the Bar, NUI Galway School of Law.
Article

Access_open The Potential of Positive Obligations Against Romaphobic Attitudes and in the Development of ‘Roma Pride’

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden Roma, Travellers, positive obligations, segregation, culturally adequate accommodation
Auteurs Lilla Farkas en Theodoros Alexandridis
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The article analyses the jurisprudence of international tribunals on the education and housing of Roma and Travellers to understand whether positive obligations can change the hearts and minds of the majority and promote minority identities. Case law on education deals with integration rather than cultural specificities, while in the context of housing it accommodates minority needs. Positive obligations have achieved a higher level of compliance in the latter context by requiring majorities to tolerate the minority way of life in overwhelmingly segregated settings. Conversely, little seems to have changed in education, where legal and institutional reform, as well as a shift in both majority and minority attitudes, would be necessary to dismantle social distance and generate mutual trust. The interlocking factors of accessibility, judicial activism, European politics, expectations of political allegiance and community resources explain jurisprudential developments. The weak justiciability of minority rights, the lack of resources internal to the community and dual identities among the Eastern Roma impede legal claims for culture-specific accommodation in education. Conversely, the protection of minority identity and community ties is of paramount importance in the housing context, subsumed under the right to private and family life.


Lilla Farkas
Lilla Farkas is a practising lawyer in Hungary and recently earned a PhD from the European University Institute entitled ‘Mobilising for racial equality in Europe: Roma rights and transnational justice’. She is the race ground coordinator of the European Union’s Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-discrimination.

Theodoros Alexandridis
Theodoros Alexandridis is a practicing lawyer in Greece.

    The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) pushed state obligations to counter prejudice and stereotypes concerning people with disabilities to the forefront of international human rights law. The CRPD is underpinned by a model of inclusive equality, which views disability as a social construct that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and barriers, including attitudinal barriers, that hinder their participation in society. The recognition dimension of inclusive equality, together with the CRPD’s provisions on awareness raising, mandates that states parties target prejudice and stereotypes about the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities to society. Certain human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, to a much lesser extent, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, require states to eradicate harmful stereotypes and prejudice about people with disabilities in various forms of interpersonal relationships. This trend is also reflected, to a certain extent, in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the extent to which the aforementioned human rights bodies have elaborated positive obligations requiring states to endeavour to change ‘hearts and minds’ about the inherent capabilities and contributions of people with disabilities. It analyses whether these bodies have struck the right balance in elaborating positive obligations to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes in interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, it highlights the convergences or divergences that are evident in the bodies’ approaches to those obligations.


Andrea Broderick
Andrea Broderick is Assistant Professor at the Universiteit Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open State Obligations to Counter Islamophobia: Comparing Fault Lines in the International Supervisory Practice of the HRC/ICCPR, the ECtHR and the AC/FCNM

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden Human rights, positive state obligations, islamophobia, international supervisory mechanisms
Auteurs Kristin Henrard
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Islamophobia, like xenophobia, points to deep-seated, ingrained discrimination against a particular group, whose effective enjoyment of fundamental rights is impaired. This in turn triggers the human rights obligations of liberal democratic states, more particularly states’ positive obligations (informed by reasonability considerations) to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively enjoyed, and thus also respected in interpersonal relationships. This article identifies and compares the fault lines in the practice of three international human rights supervisory mechanisms in relation to Islamophobia, namely the Human Rights Committee (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), the European Court of Human Rights (European Convention on Human Rights) and the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The supervisory practice is analysed in two steps: The analysis of each international supervisory mechanism’s jurisprudence, in itself, is followed by the comparison of the fault lines. The latter comparison is structured around the two main strands of strategies that states could adopt in order to counter intolerance: On the one hand, the active promotion of tolerance, inter alia through education, awareness-raising campaigns and the stimulation of intercultural dialogue; on the other, countering acts informed by intolerance, in terms of the prohibition of discrimination (and/or the effective enjoyment of substantive fundamental rights). Having regard to the respective strengths and weaknesses of the supervisory practice of these three international supervisory mechanisms, the article concludes with some overarching recommendations.


Kristin Henrard
Kristin Henrard is Professor International Human Rights and Minorities, Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open The Relationship between Empirical Legal Studies and Doctrinal Legal Research

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2020
Trefwoorden empirical legal studies, legal research methods, doctrinal legal research, new legal realism, critical legal studies, law and policy
Auteurs Gareth Davies
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article considers how empirical legal studies (ELS) and doctrinal legal research (DLR) interact. Rather than seeing them as competitors that are methodologically independent and static, it suggests that they are interdependent activities, which may each be changed by interaction with the other, and that this change brings both opportunities and threats. For ELS, the article argues that DLR should properly be understood as part of its theoretical framework, yet in practice little attention is given to doctrine in empirical work. Paying more attention to DLR and legal frames generally would help ELS meet the common criticism that it is under-theorised and excessively policy oriented. On the other hand, an embrace of legal thinking, particularly of critical legal thinking, might lead to loss of status for ELS in policy circles and mainstream social science. For DLR, ELS offers a chance for it to escape the threat of insular sterility and irrelevance and to participate in a founded commentary on the world. The risk, however, is that in tailoring legal analysis to what can be empirically researched legal scholars become less analytically ambitious and more safe, and their traditionally important role as a source of socially relevant critique is weakened. Inevitably, in offering different ways of moving to normative conclusions about the law, ELS and DLR pose challenges to each other, and meeting those challenges will require sometimes uncomfortable self-reflection.


Gareth Davies
Gareth Davies is Professor of European Law at the Faculty of Law of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open The Effectiveness Paradigm in Financial Legislation – Is Effectiveness Measurable?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2020
Trefwoorden effectiveness, effectiveness measurement methodologies, financial legislation, legislative objective, product approval governance
Auteurs Jeroen Koomans
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    How can you determine if financial legislation is effective? This article seeks to identify three characteristics that make up the basis for an effectiveness review, being the determination what the legislative objective is, who is it aimed at and what approach is taken to achieve this objective. Determining the legislative objective may prove to be a challenging undertaking, and the uncertainties that come with that affect the other two characteristics as well. And even if a clear legislative objective can be established, how can you be sure that its achievement was in fact attributable to the legislation under review? What do you compare your results to absent a baseline measurement and how can the vast number of variables that affect the effectiveness of the legislation under review be accounted for, if at all? Is effectiveness in financial legislation at all measurable and, when measured, what is its value in practice?


Jeroen Koomans
Jeroen Koomans is affiliated to the University of Amsterdam FEB Academy for Banking and Insurance and employed by ABN AMRO Bank N.V.
Article

Access_open Too Immature to Vote?

A Philosophical and Psychological Argument to Lower the Voting Age

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden voting age, children’s rights, youth enfranchisement, democracy, votes at 16
Auteurs Tommy Peto
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article argues in favour of lowering the voting age to 16. First, it outlines a respect-based account of democracy where the right to vote is grounded in a respect for citizens’ autonomous capacities. It then outlines a normative account of autonomy, modelled on Rawls’s two moral powers, saying what criteria must be met for an individual to possess a (pro tanto) moral right to vote. Second, it engages with empirical psychology to show that by the age of 16 (if not earlier) individuals have developed all of the cognitive components of autonomy. Therefore, since 16- and 17-year-olds (and quite probably those a little younger) possess the natural features required for autonomy, then, to the extent that respect for autonomy requires granting political rights including the right to vote – and barring some special circumstances that apply only to them – 16- and 17-year-olds should be granted the right to vote.


Tommy Peto
University of Oxford.
Article

Access_open The Potential of Public Policy on Open Access Repositories

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2019
Trefwoorden public policy, dissemination, governance, open access, repositories
Auteurs Nikos Koutras
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    To address the potential of public policy on the governance of OARs it is necessary to define what is meant by public policy and the importance of public policy in designing an efficient governance framework. Critical components are the subject matter of public policy and its objectives. Hence, it is useful to consider declarations, policies and statements in relation to open access practice and examine the efficiency of these arrangements towards the improvement of stakeholders’ engagement in governance of OARs. Secondly, policies relating to dissemination of scientific information via OARs should be examined. In this regard, it is relevant to consider the public policy basis for Intellectual Property (IP) laws that concerning the utility of OARs. Therefore, economic theories relevant with the role of IP laws should be examined. Such examination depicts to what extend these laws facilitate the utility of OARs. In order to specify justifications for the desirability of OARs the objectives of social theories should be also considered. Thus, there is consternation that without legal protection against copying the incentive to create intellectual property will be undermined. As scholarly communication infrastructure evolves, it is necessary to recognize the efforts of the relationship between Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and communication technologies in the context of public policy and after engagement with it. After employing such multilevel approach, the paper argues about a socio-economic framework to enhance the governance of OARs through public policy.


Nikos Koutras
Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp.

    This article relies on the premise that to understand the significance of Open Access Repositories (OARs) it is necessary to know the context of the debate. Therefore, it is necessary to trace the historical development of the concept of copyright as a property right. The continued relevance of the rationales for copyright interests, both philosophical and pragmatic, will be assessed against the contemporary times of digital publishing. It follows then discussion about the rise of Open Access (OA) practice and its impact on conventional publishing methods. The present article argues about the proper equilibrium between self-interest and social good. In other words, there is a need to find a tool in order to balance individuals’ interests and common will. Therefore, there is examination of the concept of property that interrelates justice (Plato), private ownership (Aristotle), labour (Locke), growth of personality (Hegel) and a bundle of rights that constitute legal relations (Hohfeld). This examination sets the context for the argument.


Nikos Koutras
Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp.
Article

Access_open Mercosur: Limits of Regional Integration

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2019
Trefwoorden Mercosur, European Union, regionalism, integration, international organisation
Auteurs Ricardo Caichiolo
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This study is focused on the evaluation of successes and failures of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur). This analysis of Mercosur’s integration seeks to identify the reasons why the bloc has stagnated in an incomplete customs union condition, although it was originally created to achieve a common market status. To understand the evolution of Mercosur, the study offers some thoughts about the role of the European Union (EU) as a model for regional integration. Although an EU-style integration has served as a model, it does not necessarily set the standards by which integration can be measured as we analyse other integration efforts. However, the case of Mercosur is emblematic: during its initial years, Mercosur specifically received EU technical assistance to promote integration according to EU-style integration. Its main original goal was to become a common market, but so far, almost thirty years after its creation, it remains an imperfect customs union.
    The article demonstrates the extent to which almost thirty years of integration in South America could be considered a failure, which would be one more in a list of previous attempts of integration in Latin America, since the 1960s. Whether it is a failure or not, it is impossible to envisage EU-style economic and political integration in South America in the foreseeable future. So far, member states, including Brazil, which could supposedly become the engine of economic and political integration in South America, have remained sceptical about the possibility of integrating further politically and economically. As member states suffer political and economic turmoil, they have concentrated on domestic recovery before being able to dedicate sufficient time and energy to being at the forefront of integration.


Ricardo Caichiolo
Ricardo Caichiolo, PhD (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium) is legal and legislative adviser to the Brazilian Senate and professor and coordinator of the post graduate programs on Public Policy, Government Relations and Law at Ibmec (Instituto Brasileiro de Mercado de Capitais, Brazil).
Article

Access_open Due Diligence and Supply Chain Responsibilities in Specific Instances

The Compatibility of the Dutch National Contact Point’s Decisions With the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in the Light of Decisions Made by the UK, German, Danish and Norwegian National Contact Points

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2019
Trefwoorden due diligence, supply chain, OECD, NCP, specific instance
Auteurs Sander van ’t Foort
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Since the introduction of a human rights chapter in the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, National Contact Points (NCPs) have been increasingly dealing with specific instances referring to human rights violations by companies. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the human rights provisions are the most cited provisions of the Guidelines. Specific instances include allegations such as a company’s failure to implement human rights due diligence, to apply the principles of free, prior and informed consent, to take supply chain responsibility, and/or to comply with the right to cultural heritage. Of all topics, human rights due diligence and human rights supply chain responsibilities are most commonly referred to in complaints based on the Guidelines. This article focuses on how NCPs have handled these topics of human rights due diligence and supply chain responsibility in specific instances. The Dutch NCP has been selected because it is celebrated in literature as the ‘gold standard’ because of its composition including independent members, its forward-looking approach, and because it is one of the most active NCPs in the world. All decisions of the Dutch NCP concerning these two topics are analysed in the light of the decisions of four other NCPs (UK, Denmark, Germany and Norway). A doctrinal methodology is used to analyse similarities and differences between the argumentations of the five NCPs.


Sander van ’t Foort
Sander van ’t Foort is Lecturer at Nyenrode Business University.
Article

Access_open Consumer Social Responsibility in Dutch Law

A Case Study on the Role of Consumers in Energy Transition

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2019
Trefwoorden consumer, energy transition, social responsibility, Dutch law, EU law
Auteurs Katalin Cseres
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    As our economies continue to focus on growth, competition and maximisation of consumer choice, the global increase in consumption takes vast environmental and social costs and cause irreversible harm to our climate and environment. The urgency of reducing human footprint and to diminish one of the root causes of a declining climate and environment is irrefutable. In the shift that globally has to take place, a decentralised energy system relying on more distributed generation, energy storage and a more active involvement of consumers form a crucial component of renewable energy solutions. The move from a highly centralised to a more decentralised power system involves an increasing amount of small-scale (intermittent) generation from renewable energy which is located closer to the point of final consumption. In order to steer consumption towards sustainability national governments and supranational organisations have adopted policies and corresponding legislation that address individual consumers as rational and active choice-makers who make socially responsible choices when they receive the ‘right’ amount of information. By relying on insights from modern consumption theories with contributions from sociology, this article questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of these ‘consumer-centred’ policies and laws. First, the article argues that the single focus on individual consumer behaviour as a rational and utility maximising market actor fails to take into account the complexity of consumption, which is fundamentally influenced by social norms and its broader institutional setting. Although consumers are willing to consume more sustainably, they are often ‘locked in by circumstances’ and unable to engage in more sustainable consumption practices even if they want to. Second, by relying on evidence from sociological studies the article argues that individual consumers are not the most salient actors in support of sustainable consumption. Even though the urgency of the energy transition and the critical role consumers play in (un)sustainable energy consumption is acknowledged in both the EU and its Member States, their laws and policies remain grounded on goals of economic growth with competitive economies, the sovereignty of consumer choice and wealth maximisation, instead of aiming at slower economic growth or even degrowth, reducing overall resource use and consumption levels and introducing radically different ways of consumption.
    Third, the role of law is underlined as a social institution both as a constraint on the autonomous acts of consumption, dictating the normative frameworks within which the role of consumer is defined, and as a facilitator which consumers might also employ, in order to determine for themselves particular normative parameters within which consumption can occur.
    The Netherlands, which serves as a case study in this article, has reached important milestones in its energy transition policy since 2013. Still, it remains strongly focused on economic rationality and market competitiveness. Even though various models of consumer participation exist and local consumer energy initiatives are flourishing and are recognised as key actors in the energy transition, they remain embedded in institutional, structural and behavioural settings where consumers still face challenging sociocultural barriers to sustainable practices.
    In light of these legal, political and social complexity of energy transition, the article offers a critical analysis of the current Dutch law in its broader legal context of EU law in order to answer the question what the role of (energy) law is in steering consumers towards sustainable energy consumption.


Katalin Cseres
Katalin Cseres is Associate Professor of Law, Amsterdam Centre for European Law & Governance (ACELG), University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open Making Sense of the Law and Society Movement

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2018
Trefwoorden law and society, sociology of law, sociolegal, empirical legal studies
Auteurs Daniel Blocq en Maartje van der Woude
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article aims to deepen scholarly understanding of the Law and Society Movement (L&S) and thereby strengthen debates about the relation between Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) and L&S. The article departs from the observation that ELS, understood as an initiative that emerged in American law schools in the early 2000s, has been quite successful in generating more attention to the empirical study of law and legal institutions in law schools, both in- and outside the US. In the early years of its existence, L&S – another important site for the empirical study of law and legal institutions – also had its center of gravity inside the law schools. But over time, it shifted towards the social sciences. This article discusses how that happened, and more in general explains how L&S became ever more diverse in terms of substance, theory and methods.


Daniel Blocq
Daniel Blocq is assistant professor at Leiden Law School.

Maartje van der Woude
Maartje van der Woude is professor at Leiden Law School.
Article

Access_open Afterword

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 1 2018
Auteurs Stuart Kirsch
Auteursinformatie

Stuart Kirsch
Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
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