In this article, we will provide you with 20 top tips on working at the European Court of Human Rights. We will also examine what the Court does, what kind of skills do you need to work there, working conditions and the day to day tasks.
What is the European Court of Human Rights?
The European Court of Human Rights is one of the most important courts in the world, and it is based in Strasbourg, France. If you are lucky enough to secure a job at this court, then you will be working with some of the best legal minds in the world. The Court was founded in 1959 and its job is to deal with cases that raise issues concerning the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
What kind of skills do you need to work at the Court?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question, as the Court is looking for a range of different skills and experience. However, some of the skills that would be beneficial to have include:
- The ability to work in a team: This is essential, as you will be working with a number of different people from all over Europe.
- An interest in human rights: This is a given, as you will be working on cases that involve rights violations.
- Excellent research skills: This is important, as you will be required to do a lot of research in your role.
- An ability to work under pressure: This is another essential skill, as you will often be working to tight deadlines.
- An eye for detail: This is crucial, as you will be dealing with complex legal cases.
- Good communication skills: This is important, as you will need to be able to communicate effectively with a range of different people.
What does the Court do?
The Court is responsible for a range of different activities, but its main role is to hear the applications that have been brought before it. These applications can be brought by individuals or even sometimes by governments. The Court will then make a judgement on the case, and if it finds that there has been a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, it can deliver a binding judgement.
Working conditions at the Court
The working conditions at the Court are excellent, and you can expect to be working in a modern and well-equipped office. You will also be given a good salary and benefits package, and you will be able to take advantage of the excellent facilities that are on offer in Strasbourg.
The day-to-day tasks of working at the Court
As an employee of the Court, your day-to-day tasks will vary depending on your role. However, some of the tasks that you may be required to do include:
- Researching cases: This will involve using a range of different sources, including legal databases, to research cases that have been brought before the Court.
- Drafting documents: You may be required to draft documents such as legal opinions or decisions of the Court.
- Attending hearings: You may be required to attend hearings at the Court, and you may also be asked to give evidence in some cases.
- Providing support to judges: You may be asked to provide administrative or secretarial support to the judges who sit on the Court.
Here are our 20 top tips on working at the European Court of Human Rights:
1. Be prepared to work long hours. The court works office hours every day, but you may often find yourself working well into the evening.
2. Be prepared to travel. The court sits in Strasbourg, but you may be required to travel to other parts of Europe for conferences.
3. Learn as much as you can about the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the key document that the court deals with, and it is essential that you have a good understanding of it.
4. Be proficient in at least one European language, preferably French or and English. These are the two official languages of the court, but other languages are also widely spoken.
5. Get to know the other staff members. The court is a small organisation, and it is important to build good working relationships with your colleagues.
6. Be patient. The court deals with a lot of cases, and it can take a long time for a case to be heard.
7. Be flexible. The court’s work can be unpredictable, and you may be required to work at short notice.
8. Be prepared to work on complex legal issues. The cases that come before the court are often very complicated, and you will need to be able to understand and analyse complex legal arguments.
9. Pay attention to detail. The court deals with very technical legal issues, and it is important that you are able to pay close attention to detail.
10. Do not be afraid to voice your opinion. The court relies on the input of all its staff, and it is important that you feel able to express your opinion.
11. Be respectful of the other side. Even though you may not agree with the arguments of a party, it is important that you show respect and be neutral as a court official.
12. Be aware of cultural differences. The court is made up of judges from all over Europe, and you need to be sensitive to the fact that there may be different approaches to law in different countries.
13. Be prepared to work in a team. The court deals with a lot of cases, and it is often necessary to work in a team in order to get through the workload.
14. Be prepared to deal with sensitive cases. The court deals with some very sensitive cases, and you need to be able to deal with them in a professional and respectful manner.
15. Be aware of your own physical and mental health. The work of the court can be very stressful, and it is important that you take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
16. Seek help if you are struggling. If you are finding the work of the court difficult to cope with, then do not hesitate to seek help from your colleagues or from support staff.
17. Be positive. The work of the court can be challenging, but it is also very rewarding. Try to focus on the positive aspects of the job, and on the difference that you are making to people’s lives.
18. Be prepared to learn. The work of the court is constantly changing, and you need to be prepared to keep up-to-date with new developments.
19. Be patient with the process. The court’s procedures can be complex, and it can take a long time for a case to reach a conclusion. Try to be patient, and to understand that the process is necessary in order to ensure fairness.
20. Have faith in the system. The European Court of Human Rights is one of the most important institutions in the world, and it is vital that we all have faith in its ability to protect our human rights.
Working at the European Court of Human Rights can be a challenging but rewarding experience. If you are thinking about applying for a position, make sure to read these top tips first! They will help you prepare for the application process and increase your chances of being selected for an interview. Good luck!
Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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