Experts from all member states – including Switzerland – are working in the various bodies, monitoring mechanisms and instruments of the Council of Europe. Here’s a short introduction to some of the most visible Swiss nationals, past and present:
Director General – Philippe Boillat
Before he joined the Council of Europe, Philippe Boillat was head of the department for Human Rights and the Council of Europe in Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice as well as the Swiss agent before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). From 2005 – 2017 he headed the Directorate General of Human Rights and the Rule of Law of the Council of Europe.
First President of the full-time Court – Luzius Wildhaber
Luzius Wildhaber is a professor emeritus of public international law as well as constitutional and administrative law at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Before he became a judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 1991, he had served as a judge in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and on the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank. When the Council of Europe turned the Court into a full-time body in 1998, Luzius Wildhaber was elected its first President, a key role he played until he retired in 2006.
Judge – Helen Keller
Helen Keller is a professor of international, constitutional and European law at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Her connection to the Council of Europe started, when she worked at the Court within the framework of a research project on amicable settlements; later on she represented clients before the Court. In 2011, she was elected to serve as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Judge on behalf of Liechtenstein – Carlo Ranzoni
By tradition, Liechtenstein nominates candidates from Switzerland for certain international judicial offices such as the country’s representative at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The current judge on behalf of Liechtenstein, Carlo Ranzoni, is a Swiss barrister who was appointed a judge to the Princely Court of Liechtenstein in 2001 and has served as a legal expert on various Council of Europe and United Nations committees. In 2015 he was elected a judge to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Swiss Government agent – Frank Schürmann
Every Council of Europe member state is represented before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) by a government agent. Switzerland’s agent since 2005 is Frank Schürmann. The lawyer and university professor heads the division for international human rights protection at the Swiss Federal Office of Justice and represents Switzerland before various monitoring bodies of the United Nations as well.
North-South Centre – Jean-Marie Heydt
Jean-Marie Heydt is a dual citizen of Switzerland and France. He studied law and social science, holds a Ph.D. in comparative educational science and is currently Director General of the Association Générale des Familles du Bas-Rhin in Strasbourg. In 2013 he was elected Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council of Europe’s Lisbon based Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity, better known as North-South Centre.
Venice Commission – Regina Kiener
Regina Kiener is a professor for constitutional and administrative law, including public procedural law, at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. She’s a lecturer at the Center of Competence for Public Management at the University of Bern as well as at the Swiss Judicial Academy. In 2013, she became Switzerland’s representative in the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal and constitutional matters.
ECRI – Daniel Thürer
Daniel Thürer is a professor emeritus for public international law, European law, public law and international constitutional law at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Since 2009, he is the representative on behalf of Switzerland in the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Council of Europe’s most important instrument in it’s fight against all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.
CPT – Hans Wolff
Dr. Hans Wolff (M.D.) heads the Division of Penitentiary Medicine at the Geneva University Hospitals. He is vice-president of the Conference of Swiss Prison Doctors as well as a member of the Central Ethical Committee of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. Since 2013, he is the representative on behalf of Switzerland in the European Committee against Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), which serves as a monitoring mechanism to the Council of Europe.
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