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The international system of protection of human rights was established after the Second World War to curb the power of states. It created a new political order, a globalised governance made up of networks of influence and of soft law. NGOs have become the main actors on this globalised normative field of human rights, to the point that some of them are now politically more powerful than many States.
...The Open Society network is distinguished by the number of judges linked to it and by the fact that it funds the other six organisations mentioned in this report.
... This study addresses the same issue from a complementary angle: that of the relationships between NGOs and judges. These relationships are not limited to the formal channels of action of the former with the Court; they are also much deeper and more informal, since the Court is composed, in a significant proportion, of former NGO collaborators.
Regarding the Open Society Foundation (OSF), 12 judges have collaborated to varying degrees with this organization:
• Judge Garlicki has been a member of an “individual-against-State” program at the Central European University since 1997, and has participated in several educational programs in cooperation with the Open Society Institute in Budapest and the Central European University in Budapest, university founded and funded by the OSF.
• Judge Grozev was a member of the Board of the Open Society Institute of Bulgaria from 2001 to 2004 as well as of the Board of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI, New York), from 2011 to 2015.
• Judge Kūris was a member of the Board of the Open Society Foundation of Lithuania from 1993 to 1995, a member of the coordinating board from 1994 to 1998, an expert on the publishing program from 1999 to 2003 and a member of another council from 1999 to 2003. He was therefore active there from 1993 to 2003.
• Judge Laffranque was, between 2000 and 2004, a member of the Executive Council of the Center for Political Studies - PRAXIS, an organization founded in 2000 and funded since by the Open Society Institute.
• Judge Mijović was a member of the Executive Council of the Open Society Foundation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2001 to 2004, as well as a member of the Bosnian OSF project team in 2001.
• Judge Mits has been teaching since 1999 at the Riga Law School,14 of which he became a vice-rector, as well as at the Judicial Training Center in Latvia, both founded and co-funded by the Open Society of Latvia.
• Judge Pavli, a former student of the Central European University, was a lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative from 2003 to 2015 and then director of programs of the OSF for Albania from 2016 to 2017.
• Judge Sajó was a member of the Board of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI, New York) from 2001 to 2007, and a professor at the Central European University in Budapest from 1992 to 2008.
• Judge Šikuta was a member of expert committees of the Open Society Foundation of Slovakia from 2000 to 2003. He was not remunerated for this function.
• Judge Turković was a member of the Board of the Open Society Institute of Croatia from 2005 to 2006 and a member of the research team of this same organization from 1994 to 1998.
• Judge Vučinić wrote various articles for the Open Society Institute and contributed to its reports in 2005 and 2008; he is also a member of the board of two NGOs funded by the OSF.
• Judge Ineta Ziemele has been teaching since 2001 at the Riga Law School, founded and co-funded by the Open Society of Latvia.
Regarding the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and its affiliates, eight of the twelve judges who had strong links with this organization, judged cases in which it was involved. Judges Grozev, Mits, Pavli, Šikuta and Turković each sat in a case where the OSF intervened as a third party. Judge Mijović sat in four cases where the OSF was a third party. Judges Sajó and Vučinić each sat on three cases where the OSF was a third party and Judge Garlicki in two of those cases. Judge Ziemele sat in two cases where the Open Society was a third party and in one case where the Open Society represented the applicant. Judge Laffranque sat in two cases where the Open Society intervened: one as a representative of the applicant and the other as a third party.
In addition to these cases, one must add all those in which there is an indirect link between the NGO and the judge, through OSF funding. Indeed, in very numerous cases, a judge linked to the OSF is likely to judge cases brought or supported by NGOs funded by the OSF; or conversely, a judge from an NGO funded by the OSF is likely to judge cases brought by the OSF or by its affiliated organizations. The OSF states that the link established with its beneficiaries is not only financial but aims to establish real “alliances in pursuing crucial parts of the open society agenda”.
The OSF and the NGOs it finances therefore share the same objectives.
Among the hundreds of organizations which rotate in the orbit of the OSF, some are active before the Court and benefit from significant funding taken from the US$ 32 billion with which the OSF was endowed since 1984. This is the case of Human Right Watch which has received US$ 100 million since 2010 (and whose honorary president was also chairman of the OSF), but also of the Helsinki committees which received more than two and a half million dollars in 2016, including US$ 460,000 for the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, US$ 610,000 for the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and US$ 1,325,000 for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland. Moreover, according to the data appearing on the transparency register of the European Union for the year 2017, the OSF endowed this Polish Helsinki Foundation with 40% of its global budget. The International Commission of Jurists received US$ 650,000 in 2017, Amnesty International received approximately US$ 300,000 in 2016. Interights was also funded in its time. Other organizations active before the ECHR in strategic cases, such as the ILGA and the Center for Reproductive Rights also received US$ 650,000 and US$ 365,000 respectively in 2016.
Some of these NGOs financially depend so much from the OSF that it is quite artificial to distinguish them from it. The judges who had responsibilities within these NGOs cannot ignore these links. The number of cases showing an indirect link is so considerable that we
have not undertaken to assess it fully.