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 digital rights, the internet and business and human rights having lectured widely on these topics 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.
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.
Videos of the President
Artificial Intelligence Conference: Video of the President
President Robert Spano recorded a message to Ministers on the occasion of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society to be held online on 10 and 11 June 2021. The theme of the conference will be Artificial intelligence – Intelligent politics - Challenges and opportunities for media and democracy.
High-level meeting - European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI)
Video message from President Spano on the occasion of the high-level meeting on The Council of Europe’s Recommendation on the development and strengthening of effective, pluralist and independent national human rights institutions, organised by the ENNHRI (European Network of National Human Rights Institutions) on 26 and 27 April 2021.
Webinar on The Rule of Law and the Independence of the Judiciary: a European Perspective
XVIIIth Congress of the ECC
President Robert Spano delivered the speech Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: The relationship of international, supranational and national catalogues in the 21st century on the occasion of the XVIIIth Congress of the European Constitutional Courts. The video of the event is now available.
Press conference 2021
President Robert Spano held a press conference on 28 January 2021. It was streamed live on Internet.
The President of the Court gave an overview of the Court’s activities in 2020 and presented the statistics for the past year. Accompanied by Marialena Tsirli, Registrar, and Abel Campos, Deputy Registrar, he then took questions from journalists.
Webcast of the Press Conference (original version)
Videoconference for iCourts
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.
Speeches by the President
Seminar at the University of Oslo16/05/2022
President Robert Spano delivered a speech on the theme The European Court of Human Rights responding to backlash, populism and challenges to the rule of Law at the University of Oslo on 12 May 2022....
President Robert Spano delivered the keynote speech Lawyers as the Guardians of the Rule of Law in Europe at the Lawyers’ Day, in Helsinki, on 6 May 2022....
Plenary Sitting of the Lithuanian Parliament05/05/2022
President Robert Spano delivered a speech on the theme Forging a culture of human rights in national parliaments at a Plenary Sitting of the Lithuanian Parliament, in Vilnius, on 28 April 2022....
HELP e-Conference 2020
Official visit to Norway13/05/2022
On 11 and 12 May 2022 President Robert Spano paid an official visit to Norway. On that occasion, he was granted an audience with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. During this visit, President Spano met Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister, Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister for Justice and Public Security, Eivind Vad Petersson, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and had a working meeting with Judges of the Supreme Court of Norway, led by Chief Justice Toril Marie Øie. He also gave a lecture entitled The European Court of Human Rights responding to backlash, populism and challenges to the rule of Law at the University of Oslo. President Spano was accompanied by Arnfinn Bårdsen, judge elected in respect of Norway, and Marialena Tsirli, Registrar of the Court....
Official visit to Finland09/05/2022
On 5 and 6 May 2022 President Robert Spano paid an official visit to Finland. During this visit, he met Anna-Maja Henriksson, Minister of Justice, Pekka Haavisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Tatu Leppänen, President of the Constitutional Court. President Spano also made the keynote speech Lawyers as the Guardians of the Rule of Law in Europe at the Lawyers’ Day. He was accompanied by Pauliine Koskelo, judge elected in respect of Finland, and Hasan Bakırcı, Section Registrar....
Official visit to Lithuania02/05/2022
On 28 and 29 April 2022, President Robert Spano paid an official visit to Lithuania. On that occasion, he met Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic. During this visit, President Spano also met Evelina Dobrovolska, Minister of Justice, Danutė Jočienė, President of the Constitutional Court, Sigita Rudėnaitė, Chairperson of the Judicial Council, and Members of the Parliament. He was accompanied by Egidijus Kūris, judge elected in respect of Lithuania, and Abel Campos, Deputy Registrar of the Court....
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.