Global Campus Human Rights Journal (GCHRJ) is established as a peer-reviewed bi-annual publication dedicated to serving as a forum for rigorous scholarly analysis, critical commentaries, and reports on recent developments pertaining to human rights and democratisation globally, particularly by adopting multi- and inter-disciplinary perspectives, and using comparative approaches. Global Campus Human Rights Journal also aims to serve as a forum for fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders, including academics, activists in human rights and democratisation, NGOs and civil society. It is an open access journal published under the auspices of the Global Campus of Human Rights, and is supported financially by the European Union Commission.
This article provides an overview of the developments in democracy
and human rights during 2018 in the countries of Southeast Europe, focusing on
nine countries. Different reports have revealed that the Southeastern European
region is experiencing a regression as far as democracy and human rights are
concerned. According to Freedom House, democracy is in retreat in many parts
of the world, including in Europe. In this article the author highlights the main
developments around democracy in three European Union (EU) member states:
Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. These countries continue to be listed as the
worst performers in the EU in respect of adherence to the rule of law and
widespread corruption. Six countries from the Western Balkans region –
Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are candidate countries, and
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo – are analysed in respect of the latest
developments relating to democracy and human rights. Since the regional
dimension is very important for the Western Balkans, a part is dedicated to
bilateral relations in the framework of EU integration.
Key words: European Union; Southeast Europe; democracy; human rights;
In South-East Europe (SEE), as in other countries across the world, the year 2020 was marked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts by governments to respond to it. The implementation of measures to protect citizens’ health implied the introduction of states of emergency and strict lockdowns that, in many cases, resulted in the curtailing of human rights and further weakening of the rule of law. This article provides insights from four SEE countries — namely, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo — and analyses to what extent the introduced measures met the threshold of legality, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality. The main finding of this paper is that incumbents across SEE used the state of emergency to concentrate power in their own hands, while at the same time sidelining parliaments and the judiciary and depriving vulnerable groups of their basic human rights. In summary, regional governments fared rather poorly when it came to respecting citizens’ rights and freedoms, especially in two important aspects: the proportionality and necessity of imposed measures.