Prof. Dr. Stijn Smet

Assistant professor

I am an Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at Hasselt University (since 2018) and Senior Research Associate at Melbourne Law School (since 2018). Prior to joining Hasselt University, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Melbourne Law School (2017-2018) where I worked on a collaborative Australian Research Council-funded project in comparative constitutional law. Prior to that, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow (doctor-assistent) at Ghent University (2014-2016), where I co-founded the Human Rights Law Clinic.

I hold a PhD in human rights law from Ghent University (2014). I wrote my dissertation as part of a collaborative European Research Council-funded project on ‘Strengthening the European Court of Human Rights: More Accountability through Better Legal Reasoning’ (2009-2014). My dissertation, which received high praise from the jury, provides a legal-theoretical analysis of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on conflicts between human rights. After defending the PhD, I rewrote the entire dissertation into a book, which has been published as Resolving Conflicts between Human Rights: The Judge’s Dilemma (Routledge, 2017).

My primary research expertise is in human rights law, with a focus on the European Convention on Human Rights and on conflicts of rights, and in comparative constitutional law, with a focus on freedom of religion. I am currently also developing a research line on constitutional backsliding and democratic resilience. I am co-editor (with Eva Brems) of When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? (OUP 2017).

My research has been published, among others, in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (WoS), Human Rights Law Review (WoS), Journal of Media Law, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion (WoS), Religion & Human Rights, American University International Law Review, European Constitutional Law Review (WoS), and International and Comparative Law Quarterly (WoS). I am a member of the International Society of Public Law and of the Expert Group on Intermediary Liability and Human Rights. I sit on the editorial board of Tijdschrift voor Mensenrechten. Some of my work has been cited by the European Court of Human Rights (in separate opinions).

The following activities in the academic year 2019-2020 are indicative of my international and academic profile:

  • panel member for law on the Venicommissie of the Dutch Research Council (NWO);
  • panel member for Alfa Sciences in the Doctoral Research selection committee of the Doctoral Fund of Hasselt University;
  • invitation to speak at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law (September 2019);
  • selected for Young Scholars Forum of the Melbourne Institute of Comparative Constitutional Law (December 2019);
  • co-organized an expert workshop on populism, democratic decay and restrictions of migrants’ rights in Europe at Lund University (February 2020; with Vladislava Stoyanova);
  • member of Organizing Committee of 2020 Junior Scholars Forum of the International Association of Constitutional Law (July 2020; National University of Singapore; postponed due to COVID-19);
  • organized panel on democratic resilience at the International Society of Public Law Annual Conference 2020 (July 2020, Wroclaw; postponed due to COVID-19);
  • organized panel on religious neutrality at the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies Conference 2020 (September 2020, Cordoba; postponed due to COVID-19). 

5 major achievements (publications and otherwise)

My five most important achievements of the past ten years, as relevant to the current project proposal, are (in chronological order):

  • Publication of fundamental research on conflicts between freedom of expression and the right to reputation in the Open Access journal American University International Law Review (2010), following award of Honorable Mention (ie. runner-up) at the 2010 Human Rights Essay Award at Washington College of Law. Cited 44 times as of 4 May 2020.
  • Co-founding (in 2010) and co-editing (2015-2017) the Strasbourg Observers blog, which provides an Open Access platform for commentary on ECtHR judgments. The blog makes academic commentary available to a broad audience (to date, it has received 1.7 million+ views). I have written 75+ contributions for the blog (including the most read contribution at 36,000+ views as of 4 May 2020).
  • Publication of PhD dissertation by a leading international publisher, as Resolving Conflicts between Human Rights: The Judge’s Dilemma (Routledge, 2017). The book offers a legal-theoretical analysis of conflicts between human rights that is firmly embedded in the case law of the ECtHR. The book exceeded the publisher’s expectations, leading to its being reprinted in paperback format (2018).
  • Co-editing, with Eva Brems, an edited volume on conflicts of rights at the ECtHR, published by Oxford University Press as When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? (2017). I was lead editor of the volume, which was the output of an international workshop I organized at Ghent University. The volume has been reviewed positively in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights, Reading Religion, and European Yearbook of Human Rights.
  • Publication of longer-term research on the role of tolerance in law in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2019). This Web of Science journal (Q2) is one of the leading law journals of Europe. Its acceptance rate is <10%, attesting to the exceptional quality of research published in the journal.

Complete publication list: see ORCID for most publications (no full university repository-based list available due to successive affiliations at multiple universities, not all of which have retained publications in repository after end of contract).