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Human Rights Seminar 5: Selected Issues: 'Universal Access to Energy Services from an EU and International Perspective'

When:We 28-05-2014 14:00 - 18:00
Where:Het Kasteel, Professorenkamer, Melkweg 1

This seminar is part of the seminar series Human Rights in Essential Public Service Provision, presented by the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance and the Groningen International School of Law.

This Seminar will explore the provision of universal access to modern energy services as a public essential service. While access to energy is not (yet) a human right as such, there is internationally a large consensus that a lack of access to energy, also called 'energy-poverty' is highly detrimental to further development, and is paramount to improving quality of life in many ways (e.g. education, health, food production, communication, standards of living generally).

The right for rural women to have access to electricity, and the importance of access to energy for the fulfilment of the right to housing has been affirmed in international law; but also in the context of the EU access to energy has received attention, albeit not specifically on the basis of human rights. Yet, the EU Electricity Directive explicitly refers to the importance of 'access to electricity' in combatting 'energy poverty' and requirements of non-discriminatory, universal access, while Art 36 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights mentions access to 'services of general economic interest' specifically.

The need for such an analysis becomes even more imperative if one considers the Draft Accession Agreement of the EU to the ECHR. Will such an accession, be a step forward for the universal access to energy services or a step back? In this context, issues of conflict of norms and conflict of regimes will be examined. Although these at a first glance seem to be issues of general international law with no relevance to individuals as such, it will be shown that the answers to these questions are essential building blocks towards securing a more clear and comprehensive access of individuals to energy services.

The purpose of this Seminar is to explore the merits of a human rights based approach to energy provision in Europe and internationally. It will examine whether we are seeing the emergency of a new human right or whether we still have to search for evidences of it indirectly through the application of other human rights and the corresponding standards and concepts, such as non-discrimination and 'AAAQ'. The regulation of energy services will also be assessed i.e. how it is arranged/could be improved through accountability and participation of various actors. Of course, considering the privatization of energy services in parts of the world, the role of private actors also needs to be considered.

Full programme of the Seminar on Universal Access to Energy Services from an EU and International Perspective.

Keynote speakers:

Professor Marcel Brus (University of Groningen)

Ms. Marga Edens, Vice-Director of Corporate Responsibility at RWE/AG Germany / Chair of Bettercoal Initiative

Dr. Thoko Kaime, Lecturer in Law / Co-Chair of the Community of Practice on Legal Aspects of Sustainable Access to Energy for All (SE4ALL) (Leicester University)

In-house speakers:

Marlies Hesselman and Panos Merkouris

Relevant research programme:

Energy and Sustainability