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Wouter Vandenhole

The case of Federation of Employed Pensioners of Greece (IKA-ETAM) v Greece, decided on by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) in December 2012, deals with reforms of the Greek pension system as part of the austerity measures taken by Greece in the wake of the financial and economic crises since 2008. These austerity measures were adopted as part of the conditionality attached to the financial assistance provided to Greece by the so-called Troika. In return for financial assistance from EU member states and the International Monetary Fund, Greece had to address its excessive deficit by taking far-reaching economic and social reforms. The rewriting exercise proposes that the ECSR could at least have found the ESC rights violated by Greece against the background of joint responsibility with the EU and the IMF. That would have allowed Greece to ask the EU and the IMF to share in the burden of reparation. The underlying argument is that improving the effectiveness of human rights law may sometimes require rather radical changes, inspiration for which may be found in rather unexpected canons of international law, such as the law of the sea, space law and liability law.

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Vincent Bellinkx and Wouter Vandenhole

The production of energy and access to energy services is key to (economic) development and to the fulfilment of socio-economic human rights. Yet the world is also facing extreme environmental challenges largely due to energy production and consumption. Accordingly, well-constructed energy governance is crucial in resolving environmental challenges to preserve adequate natural resources for future generations. This article explores two normative frameworks with the potential to guide energy governance towards social change and towards a just and future-proof energy governance system. First, this article gives an overview of five challenges energy governance is facing: (1) lack of participation mechanisms; (2) the absence of environmental policy integration; (3) unsatisfactory protection of the interests of future generations; (4) challenges of availability and accessibility of energy for everyone; and (5) lack of adaptivity and reflexivity. Second, this article introduces and outlines the emerging concept of sustainable development law (SDL) and the more matured framework of human rights law (HRL). In the third section of this article, we discuss how these two normative frameworks can address the five energy governance challenges, before exploring how to balance and prioritize between sustainable development law and human rights law when/if they conflict with each other.