International Workshop: Rights in the Policy Process

Madrid, Spain

On June 14–15, 2015, IDI held an international workshop entitled "Rights Considerations in the Policy Process" in Madrid. This workshop took place under the auspices of IDI's "Proportionality in Public Policy" project, which is funded by a research grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

The goal of the workshop was to bring together a variety of experts from different countries and academic disciplines, whose research focuses on integrating rights considerations in the policy making process, at both the bureaucratic and political levels. Participants included experts who were specifically invited based on their expertise, as well as researchers who responded to a call for papers.

The workshop discussions addressed barriers to the development of a rich rights discourse in the policy process, such as the structure of political incentives and the vagueness of the judicial standard of proportionality, and evaluated the effectiveness of various constitutional compatibility mechanisms and impact mechanisms in light of these barriers. Participants also engaged in deliberations regarding the role of legal advisors in the policy process and grappled with methodological challenges in this area.

The workshop discussions addressed a broad array of policy contexts, from security to budget cuts, as well as immigration and penal policy. Participants in the workshop came from Israel, Canada, Australia, Germany, Scotland, and the UK, and their areas of expertise included law, political science, public policy, and philosophy.

IDI's Proportionality in Public Policy project is supported by
a five-year grant awarded to Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer by
The European Research Council

Top row (left to right): Prof. James Harrison, Mr. Andrej Lang, Prof. Simon Evans, Dr. Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Dr. Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, Ms. Talya Steiner

Bottom row: Prof. Adam Dodek, Prof. James Kelly, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Prof. Janet Hiebert, Dr. Jaako Kuosmanen, Dr. Sarah Armstrong

Sunday, June 14th

8:45—9:00 am – Introductory Remarks
Every session will include a 10 min. opening presentation, followed by 50 min. of Q&A and discussion

9:00—10:00 am – Prof. James Kelly (Concordia University): Control the Rules, Control the Result: New Zealand’s Bill of Rights and Unbridled Legislative Outcomes

10:00—11:00 am – Prof. Janet Hiebert (Queen’s University): Legislative Rights Review in the UK

11:30 am—12:30 pm – Dr. Ittai Bar Siman Tov (Bar Ilan University): The Consideration of Constitutional Rights in the Legislative Process: From Inter-branch to Intra-branch Constitutional Dialogue

12:30—1:30 pm – Mr. Andrej Lang (University of Halle-Wittenburg): Fundamental Rights and Proportionality in German Public Policy: Analyzing the Legislative Process of the Counter-Terrorism Database Act

2:45—3:45 pm – Prof. Adam Dodek (University of Ottowa): The Promise and Peril of Executive Responsibility for Rights Protection

3:45—5:15 pm –Discussion: The Role of Legal Advisors in the Policy Process with regard to Rights
What roles do legal advisors play in policy making processes? What factors determine the legal advisors influence? What is the relationship between legal advisors and other actors with regard to rights? How should legal advisors roles be structured in order to optimize the consideration of rights?

Monday, June 15th

8:30—9:30 am – Prof. James Harrison (University of Warwick): Assessing the Impact of Public Spending Cuts: Taking Human Rights and Equality Seriously 

9:30—10:30 am – Dr. Jaakko Kuosmanen (Oxford): The Clashing of Human Rights and Public Budgets: a Conceptual Framework for Diagnosing Epistemically-Oriented Failures

11:00 am—12:00 pm – Dr. Sarah Armstrong (University of Glasgow): How Rights get Prisons (Policy) Wrong

12:00—1:30 pm – Discussion: Issues in the Methodology of Researching Rights Considerations in the Policy Process
What are the different methodologies available for research on rights considerations in the policy process? What are their comparative strengths and weaknesses? What are the limitations of findings in this realm of research, and what possibilities are there for generalizing findings between policy areas, between institutions and between countries? 

2:45—3:45 pm – Dr. Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan (Hebrew University and IDI): Expert Judgment of Proportionality in War: an Experimental Study

3:45—5:15 pm – Concluding Discussion: Rights in the Policy Making Process 
How should the idea of rights in the policy process be conceptualized? What factors affect the weight afforded to rights in the policy process, for better and for worse? What substantive or procedural mechanisms may increase or decrease the weight of rights considerations? What directions should research on rights in the policy process focus on?