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Presidency of the Court

President Robert Spano

President Robert Spano was born in Reykjavik in 1972.

He graduated with a Candidatus Juris Degree in Law from the University of Iceland in 1997. He subsequently read for a Magister Juris Degree in European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford (University College) graduating in 2000 with distinction. At Oxford, Robert Spano was awarded the Clifford Chance Prize (proxime accessit) for his scholastic achievements as well as the Civil Procedure Prize.

After graduating in 1997, Robert Spano was appointed Deputy District Court Judge in the District Court of Reykjanes, serving in that role until 1998 when he became a Legal Advisor in the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland. After his post-graduate studies at Oxford University, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Ombudsman serving in that role until 2004.

From 2004 to 2013, Robert Spano was a full time legal scholar in the Law Faculty of the University of Iceland, first an Associate Professor of Law and then, from 2006, a Professor of Law, serving as Vice-Dean of the Faculty from 2007-2010 and then elected Dean from 2010 until his election as a Judge of the European Court of Human Rights in 2013. He has written extensively in the fields of statutory interpretation, human rights law, constitutional law, as well as criminal law and criminal procedure. Robert Spano has published three books and approximately 80 articles and book chapters. He is an acknowledged expert in the field of the Internet and human rights having lectured widely on that topic in recent years.

From 2009 to 2010, Robert Spano took leave of absence as a Law Professor and was provisionally appointed Parliamentary Ombudsman of Iceland by the Presidium of Parliament. He was again appointed Parliamentary Ombudsman in 2013 and served in that role before taking up his office in Strasbourg on 1 November 2013.

Robert Spano chaired various commissions and expert committees in Iceland. He drafted numerous bills adopted by Parliament, primarily in the field of criminal law. He was appointed Chairman of the Standing Committee of Experts on Criminal Law of the Ministry of Justice in 2003-2008 and again in 2011-2013. In 2007, the Prime Minister of Iceland appointed Robert Spano as Chairman of a Special Commission entrusted with investigating human rights abuses in municipal and state child care institutions from 1947-1992. In 2011, the General Assembly of the State Church of Iceland appointed him Chairman of its Commission mandated to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by the former Bishop of Iceland. Robert Spano, an expert on children's rights, was an expert to the Lanzarote Committee of the Council of Europe in 2012 and also the Icelandic member of the European Committee on Crime Problems of the Council of Europe from 2012-2013. In 2012, he was appointed Iceland's ad hoc judge in the EFTA Court.

Having been elected a Judge of the European Court of Human Rights on 25 June 2013, Robert Spano began his nine year mandate on 1 November of the same year. He served as President of Section from 1 May 2017 until 30 April 2019 and as Vice-President of the Court from 5 May 2019 until 17 May 2020. He has been President of the Court since 18 May 2020.

Full CV

The plenary Court elects its President for a period of 3 years.

The President directs the work and administration of the Court. He represents the Court and, in particular, is responsible for its relations with the authorities of the Council of Europe. The President presides at plenary meetings of the Court, meetings of the Grand Chamber and meetings of the panel of 5 judges.

Rules of Court - Presidency

Speeches by the President

HELP e-Conference 2020

Events

  • Videoconference by President Robert Spano

    02/06/2020 
    Videoconference by President Robert Spano

    President Robert Spano gave a videoconference presentation on the theme of The principle of judicial independence on 29 May 2020. Organised by ICOURTS at the University of Copenhagen, this event was broadcast live, with the President of the ECHR subsequently answering questions from an online audience.

    Video of the Conference

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Official visits

  • Visit by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova

    25/09/2020 
    Visit by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova

    On 24 September 2020, Fadei Nagacevschi, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova, was received by President Robert Spano. Valeriu Griţco, judge elected in respect of the Republic of Moldova, and Marialena Tsirli, Registrar-elect, also attended the meeting.

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  • Visit by the Permanent Representative of Belgium

    25/09/2020 

    On 24 September 2020, Jean-Cédric Janssens de Bisthoven, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the Council of Europe, visited the Court and was received by President Robert Spano. Paul Lemmens, Section President and judge elected in respect of Belgium, and Marialena Tsirli, Registrar-elect, also attended the meeting.

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  • Visit by the Permanent Representative of Slovenia

    25/09/2020 

    On 24 September 2020, Andrej Slapničar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the Council of Europe, visited the Court and was received by President Robert Spano. Marko Bošnjak, judge elected in respect of Slovenia, and Marialena Tsirli, Registrar-elect, also attended the meeting.

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Former Presidents

Hammer

Since 1959, 14 judges served as President of the European Court of Human Rights. The President is elected for a three year term by the plenary Court, composed of 47 national judges.

Former Presidents

All official visits

All speeches