“High Judicial Office” and “Jurisconsult of Recognised Competence”: Reflections on the Qualifications for Becoming a Judge at the Strasbourg Court
Christoph Grabenwarter / Matti Pellonpää
The qualifications required for judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) (“the Court”) are defined in Art. 21 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (“the Convention”). The basic provision on their election is Art. 22. According to its first paragraph the judges are elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe “from a list of three candidates nominated by the High Contracting Party”.
The procedure of election of judges has undergone important changes in the last decade.
National procedures for selecting candidates have been improved based on recommendations by the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, and the procedures in the Assembly have evolved. Thus the sub-committee of the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which since 1998 has conducted interviews with the candidates, was replaced in 2014 by a permanent Parliamentary Assembly Committee on the Election of Judges.
Before that, in 2010, a new body, the Advisory Panel of Experts on Candidates for Election as judge to the European Court of Human Rights (“the Advisory Panel”) had been set up. This step can be seen as a measure strengthening the election procedure: it adds an element of independent judicial expertise to the system characterised by the democratic legitimacy derived from the role of the Parliamentary Assembly, as the method of electing judges affects the appearance of their independence.
The task of the Advisory Panel is, however, and above all, to give addi-tional guarantees that the judges elected by the Parliamentary Assembly really meet all the requirements set out in the above-mentioned Art. 21 of the Convention.
The purpose of this paper is to analyse and to interpret those require-ments especially in light of the Advisory Panel’s practice.