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Current Articles

Denouncing Divinity: Blasphemy, Human Rights, and the Struggle of Political Leaders to defend Freedom of Speech in the Case of Innocence of Muslims

This article is about freedom of speech and the political responses to the blasphemous Innocence of Muslims video, which sparked international controversy in the fall of 2012. Politicians from multiple corners of the world spoke out on freedom of speech and its relation to blasphemy. Whereas one might expect that those politicians would abide by international human rights law, many of them issued statements that unequivocally undermined the principle of free speech enshrined in those human rights instruments. This article discusses a number of these political statements against the background of human rights standards.

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Recht und Sozialtheorie: Drei Probleme - Law and Social Theory: Three Problems

Drei Theoriekatastrophen sind dafür verantwortlich, dass nach anfänglich hoher Theorieaffinität die deutsche Rechtsdogmatik sich heute gegenüber Sozialtheorien weitgehend immunisiert hat. Der Beitrag diskutiert die Alternative eines distanzierten Umgangs mit Sozialtheorien. Dieser kann in der Begegnung von Sozialtheorie und Recht einen rechtsdogmatischen Mehrwert dann erzeugen, wenn es der Rechtsdogmatik gelingt, dem prekären Verhältnis von Autonomie und Interdependenz in drei unterschiedlichen Dimensionen gerecht zu werden: (1) Theoriekonkurrenz: Wie soll das Recht eine Auswahl treffen, wenn konkurrierende Sozialtheorien miteinander nicht kompatible Analysen von Sozialphänomenen liefern? (2) Wissenstransfer: Wie lassen sich Konstrukte der Sozialtheorien in das Recht übertragen? (3) Und schliesslich die heikelste Frage nach der Normativität von Sozialtheorien: Lassen sich aus wissenschaftlichen Theorien normative Kriterien für die Rechtspraxis gewinnen? Antworten zu diesen Fragen werden am Beispiel der horizontalen Grundrechtswirkung in halb-privaten Netzwerken der Medizinforschung formuliert.

Three theory disasters are responsible for the fact that, after an initial close affinity to theory, German legal doctrine has now become largely immunised against social theories. This paper discusses the alternative of a distanced approach to social theories. At the point where social theory comes into contact with law, this approach is able to generate added value for legal doctrine, if legal doctrine is able to take into account the precarious relationship between autonomy and interdependence in three different dimensions: (1) competition between theories: how is the law to make a selection, when competing social theories provide mutually incompatible analyses of social phenomena? (2) knowledge transfer: how can constructs of social theories be transferred to the law? (3) and, finally, the highly complex issue of the normativity of social theories: can normative criteria for legal practice be derived from academic theories? Answers to these questions are formulated on the basis of the example of the horizontal effect of fundamental rights in semiprivate networks of medical research.

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Succession of States in the EU

A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of separatism. Scotland, Catalonia, Flanders, South Tyrol – all these regions have separatist movements pursuing independence from their current National State. The breakup of an EU Member State no longer seems impossible. To date, it is unclear what impact this would have on the EU membership of the new entities (with consequences for the character of citizenship, voting rights in the council, number of MEPs etc.) that emerge from the old States. The common rules of Public International Law governing the succession of States are insufficient in the case of a succession of States in the EU. Although the Treaties do not provide for such a situation and the past 60 years of European history offer only a few and not really persuasive precedents, the nature of the EU as a joint association of sovereign States (“Staatenverbund”) demands a special approach: A separated State will neither be automatically excluded from the EU nor will it automatically become a new Member State. Drawing on the ideas of Articles 49 and 50 TEU this essay develops a procedure for balancing the interests of the EU, its Member States, and the people living in the seceding State, who are likely to be pro-EU. If a Member State breaks up, both the remaining State and the new entity will continue to represent the former Member State in the European institutions. The former Member State will provisionally continue to exist for both the EU and its Member States with respect to European matters. A process of negotiation between the two “new” States themselves and with the other Member States will lead to a new balance within the EU and the adaption of the Treaties – the solution has to be a political one. If the negotiations are successful, the former Member State can finally be dissolved at the EU level. In this case either both new States will become new Members or the remaining State will continue the membership (with necessary modifications) while the separated State will become a new Member. No part of the State would have left the EU – not even for a moment. But if one Member State or one of the two concerned States rejects further negotiations – which must be considered every Member State’s due right – the breakup will be final ex nunc. Whether both States or just one of them leave(s) the EU (while the remaining State continues the former’s membership without being affected by the secession) would then be a question of classical Public International Law governing the succession of States. This solution identifies the legal order of the EU as preeminent while Public International Law is only subsidiary. This political and legal “Staatenverbund”-approach recognizes the EU as a special form of entity, a joint association of sovereign States.

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Mephisto vor den Richtern – Mephisto before the judges

Mephisto vor den Richtern – Von der Entdeckung zur Entmündigung des Lesers in den Mephisto‐Prozessen

Mephisto before the judges: The Mephisto trials – how the reader was discovered, and then denied any decision‐making capacity

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Ethics and Human Rights - Ethik und Menschenrechte

Human rights protect essential elements and spheres of human existence that enable humans to survive and exist as humans. In this context, human rights can be viewed as having four dimensions: In addition to the legal, the political, and the historic dimension, human rights also have a moral dimension. From an ethical perspective, this raises two issues. The first concerns the relationship of human rights as a moral right compared to other moral rights. The second deals with the moral dimension of human rights (i.e. the question of the legitimation of human rights), what they are based on, and their relationship to other dimensions of human rights, which need to be examined in detail. Furthermore, human rights can serve as an ethical point of reference, since they are characterized by an essential universal consensus, practical orientation, and their ability to be enacted as positive law. At the same time, the inherent claim of human rights to universality raises questions regarding their relationship to other moral systems, which must be addressed.

Menschenrechte schützen essenzielle Elemente und Bereiche der menschlichen Existenz, die dem Menschen ermöglichen, zu überleben und als Mensch zu leben. Menschenrechte können dabei vierdimensional verstanden werden: Neben einer rechtlichen, einer politischen und einer historischen Dimension weisen die Menschenrechte eine moralische Dimension auf. Daher ergibt sich aus einer ethischen Perspektive zum einen die Frage nach dem Verhältnis der Menschenrechte als moralische Rechte zu anderen moralischen Rechten. Zum anderen gilt es, die moralische Dimension der Menschenrechte (u.a. die Frage nach der Begründung der Menschenrechte), ihre Grundlage und ihr Verhältnis zu den anderen Dimensionen der Menschenrechte genauer zu reflektieren. Menschenrechte können zudem als ethischer Referenzpunkt dienen, da sie sich durch den ihnen zugrundeliegenden universellen Konsens, ihren Praxisbezug und ihre Offenheit für eine Positivierung in juristische Rechte auszeichnen. Gleichzeitig lösen die Menschenrechte aufgrund ihres Universalitätsanspruchs Fragen in Bezug auf ihr Verhältnis zu anderen moralischen Systemen aus, denen nachgegangen werden sollte.

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Since the publication of Between Facts and Norms, it appears to have gone largely unremarked by critical theorists that Habermas has wholly abandoned the neo-Parsonian systems-theoretic account of social systems developed in his middle period. In this paper, I argue not only that Habermas has developed a new vocabulary and theoretical structure for dealing with social systems such as law, but also that this new approach to social systems is incompatible with the neo-Parsonianism of social systems developed in that arly work. This is not to say that Habermas’ work in Between Facts and Norms should be set aside, but rather that the Parsonianism of The Theory of Communicative Action must be abandoned if Habermas’ jurisprudential project is to go ahead.

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The Sign as Form and the Form of the Law Sign - Das Zeichen als Form und die Form des Rechtszeichens

Luhmann’s concept of the „sign as form“ is discussed in the broader context of Peirce and Serres’ concepts of formation, with an inheritance in the foreground. The assertion is: bifurcation as a result amputates the fundamental operation of form-building by excluding the operator. The operator is the interpretant, who Luhmann subsequently re-introduces as an observer (at a different level). But the interpretant does not permit itself to be excluded; it is always present – as a parasite (Serres). This is demonstrated using a practical case: A woman living in a home writes her will, in which she instates the home warden and his wife as her heirs. One uses a standardized form in the assumption that one is adhering to the prescribed legal form and thereby eliminating any need for further interpretation. The legal proceedings that followed and were instigated by the testatrix’ relatives against the home warden reversed these circumstances. The operation of drawing on a right as an object in such a manner that the operation in turn claims rights in law, thus becoming a legal sign in itself (Peirce), is parasitic. It plans for unplanned, surprising disruptions.

Diskutiert wird Luhmanns Konzept vom „Zeichen als Form“ vor dem Hintergrund der Formgebungen bei Peirce und Serres mit einem Erbschaftsfall im Vordergrund. Die These lautet: Zweiteilung als Ergebnis amputiert die grundlegende Operation der Formbildung, indem der Operator ausgesperrt wird. Operator ist der Interpretant, den Luhmann als Beobachter (unterschiedlicher Stufe) anschließend wieder einführt. Aber er lässt sich nicht aussperren, er ist fortwährend anwesend – als Parasit (Serres). An einem praktischen Fall wird das demonstriert: Eine Frau in einem Heim verfasst ein Testament und setzt den Heimleiter und seine Frau als Erben ein. Man benutzt die Rechtsform formularmäßig und meint, mit diesem Formular das Testament fachgerecht zu verfassen und die Interpretation auszusperren. Das spätere Rechtsverfahren der Verwandten gegen den Heimleiter kehrt die Verhältnisse um. Die Operation, sich auf Recht als ein Objekt so zu beziehen, dass die Operation sich wie dieses Objekt auf Recht bezieht und damit selbst zu einem Rechtszeichen wird (Peirce), ist parasitär. Sie plant ungeplante, überraschende Störungen ein.

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“No foreign judges” is a recurrent clamor in contemporary Swiss politics. With this slogan some Swiss politicians challenge the European Supreme Court’s jurisdiction within the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union. Treaty negotiations usually associated with sober diplomacy thereby receive a strong emotional flavor. Even academic discussions on more subtle forms of how “foreign law” influences national legal discourse sometimes turn emotional: Should courts be permitted to look to foreign jurisdictions to guide their decisions, to create their arguments by comparing foreign law with their own? Occasionally, such idea is subject to harsh criticism. Concerns raised against it partially coincide with those “against foreign judges”: Such references to “foreign law” lack democratic legitimacy. They threaten national sovereignty and distort the cultural identity of one’s own law. And legal professionals may add: Comparative arguments impurify the doctrinal system of domestic law. In a nutshell, the influence of foreign law on national case law needs to be avoided. For there is a lot to lose, but little to gain. Proponents of comparative legal reasoning paint quite a different picture of foreign judges and jurisdictions. The origins of their idea lead us back to …

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Paving the Way for an Institutional Approach towards an Ethical Migration Regime

In thinking about moral principles for an international regime on migration, international lawyers and political theorists wishing to provide practical guidance should adopt a specific methodological approach suitable for international institutions. This paper proposes a methodological tool entitled “normative reflexive dialogue” to support theorists in dealing with the current institutional realities while developing and justifying moral principles that international institutions should follow. After describing the basic features of this approach, which links legal analysis with moral reasoning, GATS Mode 4 will be used as an example of a methodological approach to generating some substantive moral principles for a migration regime.

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Published 13.06.2006
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