As of 1 September 2017, Wiebe Hommes will start his PhD research at the Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance. His PhD research will focus on assessing the creation, discovery and evolution of European human rights and the reception in the Netherlands of this process as well as the Dutch contribution to it.
Wiebe obtained a LLM in European Union law and a MA in history at the University of Amsterdam and aims to combine the two disciplines in his research project entitled ‘Discovering and Creating European Human Rights, the Netherlands 1945-1995’.
In the last years, questions on the origins and future of human rights have become subject of an intense academic debate. Recent historical explanations on the impressive success of human rights have mainly focused on the political morality of human rights: they were a welcome and apolitical tool for activists and governments. The discovery and evolution of human rights law, however, is somewhat forgotten and remains largely the field of sociologists and lawyers. The possibility of adding to and potentially bridging the vibrant academic fields dealing with the functioning and history of human rights forms an extra motivation for Wiebe to pursue this PhD project.
A study which combines historical analysis and legal developments can contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of accepting and shaping European human rights. Both the political governmental perspective, and the legal-academic sphere, mirrored by the legal developments at the European level take a central role. The political sphere on the one hand is vital to understand the process of Europeanization. Governments suddenly had to cope with ’foreign’ human rights standards on a European level and were even held to account: how did they react? Second, the legal-academic sphere is equally important to understand the working of European law in a national context. Judges, lawyers and legal scholars have a ‘Janus-faced’-role in the process of Europeanization. On the one hand, they accept European law in a certain way, on the other they also shape the law by their interpretation. By examining these processes, both academic fields can be enhanced with a new point of view: while the historiography has so far neglected the legal side of the story, legal scholarship can benefit from a historical point of view in order to understand the dynamics of Europeanization.