Turkey and the Netherlands: The greatest enemy of democracy is democracy

ErdoganThis week we saw the emergence of a major diplomatic conflict between Turkey and the Netherlands. In short, the Dutch government used legal means to ban two Turkish ministers from Dutch territory, preventing them to hold speeches in support of the Erdogan campaign. This campaign is about a referendum that would change the Turkish Constitution, putting –bluntly said- more power in the hands of the Turkish President.

In the media, we see an explosion of articles that are about the ‘lawfulness’ of the Dutch actions and Turkish ministers. However, what I miss in the ‘mainstream’ debate is a very important underling question: ‘can you use democratic means to realize undemocratic results?’ Or, from the opposite perspective: ‘can you use undemocratic means to protect democracy?’

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Bhasin v. Hrynew (2014) the Supreme Court of Canada

CanadianSupremeCourtWhy is this ruling so important?
In this ground-breaking ruling, the Canadian Supreme Court affirmed the existence of the principle of good faith in contract law. This is a wonderful example of the application of ius cogens, or general principles of law. Since the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that lower courts may not overrule decisions of higher courts (the so called Stare Decisis doctrine), and the Supreme Court is the highest Canadian court, the principle of good faith in contract law applies fully in all Canadian States.

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Dear history teacher

schrijven.jpegMy name is Bart Wernaart, I am a lecturer in law and ethics, and wanted to express my sincere appreciation to you for your profession. Well, that is an understatement: I guess I wanted to say that we need help, and we need you more than ever.

Some doubt the added value of your subject. Some might even suggest to delete history as a subject from school curricula. Amongst them, to my horror, we might even find policy makers. They are fools. I hereby would like to ask you to double your effort in your vital job to teach your subject. Law and ethics are important topics to reflect on our current society, but when people fail to learn from past experiences, my subject is rather meaningless.

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Van Gend en Loos: ECJ, Case 26/62, 1963, preliminary ruling

VanGendenLoos

How tax and trucks proved to be a very effective combination.

Why is this ruling so important?
In this groundbreaking ruling, the European Court of Justice held that citizens could invoke particular European law in the national courts of EU Member States. Before, international law was considered to be an agreement between States only, and therefore only affecting the relation between State Parties, not the relation between a State Party and its citizens.

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Trade agreements and politics – bad romance?

Open trade bad idea

In the media, we see some surprised responses to the fact that the Walloon parliament in southern Belgium is able to veto an international trade agreement on behalf of Belgium. This concerns the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) closed between the EU and Canada. The surprise does not come from the fact that people or parliamentarians oppose to big trade agreements, but rather that the Walloon parliament is able to resist to such an agreement, being a regional (and not a national) legislature. However, this is not so surprising when we take a closer look at the Belgian constitutional system and its current political climate.

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