2020/ 2021

Pola Cebulak

Mobility Phase: New York University | Humboldt University Berlin

The Role of Regional Courts in Protecting the Rule of Law

Pola is a tenured Assistant Professor in European Law at the European Studies Department of the University of Amsterdam. Before joining the University of Amsterdam, she has worked and studied at top academic institutions in seven different countries. She worked as Lecturer and Postdoctoral Researcher in Denmark (iCourts – the Centre of Excellence for International Courts at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen) and Switzerland (Global Studies Institute at the University of Geneva and Chair of Public International and European Law at the University of Fribourg). During her PhD, she was enrolled in a double-degree Erasmus Mundus program in Belgium (Université libre de Bruxelles) and Switzerland (University of Geneva), with a fellowship of the European Commission. As a Visiting Scholar, she followed classes in the United States (Boston University and Harvard Law School). Pola studied in Germany (Humboldt University in Berlin) and United Kingdom (King’s College London). She graduated from the German “Staatsexamen” with honours. She has also worked as Trainee in Luxembourg (the Court of Justice of the EU) and Germany (Polish Embassy in Berlin and Clifford Chance LLP in Frankfurt). Pola speaks fluent Polish, English, German and French.

The Role of Regional Courts in Protecting the Rule of Law

The project aims to shed further light onto the practice of regional supranational courts adjudicating on highly politically sensitive issues of democratic decay at national level. It combines an outside and an inside look of the role of judges in protecting the rule of law in Europe. The comparative approach of studying the varied understandings of regional human rights courts to the concept of the rule of law aims at placing the European experience in a broader context. The inside look presents a socio-legal perspective on the reception of European Court of Justice rulings in Poland. Regional organizations and, in particular, regional courts might appear as the key institutions guaranteeing counter-majoritarian checks and balances in times of rising populist tendencies. We expect that delegation of powers to supranational institutions can strengthen non-majoritarian policy dynamics and shield policy-makers from populist pressures. With the rise of populist and nationalist tendencies, international courts face the danger of backlash, understood as an extraordinary critique undermining the legitimacy and authority of the institution as such. This project maps various institutional strategies deployed by regional courts to address democratic backsliding at national level.