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Globalization and the Law: Deciphering the Message of Transnational Human Rights Litigation

By Peer Zumbansen
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

A. Ouverture*

On 14 October 2004, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVerfG – German Federal Constitutional Court) voided a decision by the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court ) Naumburg, finding a violation of the complainant's rights guaranteed by the Grundgesetz (German Basic Law). The Decision directly addresses both the observation and application of case law from the European Court of Human Rights under the Basic Law's "rule of law provision" in Art. 20.III. While there is a myriad of important aspects with regard to this decision, we may limit ourselves at this point to the introductory aperçu contained in the holdings of the case. One of them reads as follows:

Zur Bindung an Gesetz und Recht (Art.20 Abs. 3 GG) gehört die Berücksichtigung der Gewährleistungen der Konvention zum Schutze der Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten und der Entscheidungen des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte im Rahmen methodisch vertretbarer Gesetzesauslegung. Sowohl die fehlende Auseinandersetzung mit einer Entscheidung des Gerichtshofs als auch deren gegen vorrangiges Recht verstoßende schematische "Vollstreckung" können gegen Grundrechte in Verbindung mit dem Rechtsstaatsprinzip verstoßen.

This holding goes to the heart of any discussion of transnational law. With the rise of human rights standards within the sphere of transnational civil human rights litigation since Filartìga, it has become ever more difficult to discern the borders and divisions of law. In our assessment of border-crossing legal (and other) standards, our focus on law as a contained system of rules guides our perception and our evaluation of what in fact must be recognized as a highly differentiated, fragmented and decentralized interlocking of regulatory and self-regulatory processes. This development not only concerns territorial...