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Ideology in the Courtroom: How Impartial Are Judges?

Plenary / Democracy & the Rule of Law
in deutscher Sprache

How strongly and vocally can judges afford to demonstrate their convictions without citizens coming to doubt their impartiality? How can we reconcile these two positions? Is it a restriction of judges’ freedom of opinion when their previous life is disclosed?

Professor of Islamic Law, University of Vienna
Former Justice, Court of Justice of the European Union, Luxembourg
President, Austrian Associaton of Judges, Vienna
Managing Editor, "Rechtspanorama", Die Presse, Vienna Chair

Dr. Ebrahim AFSAH

Professor of Islamic Law, University of Vienna

 Ebrahim Afsah is currently professor of Islamic law at the University of Vienna and associate professor of international law at the University of Copenhagen, Ebrahim Afsah obtained his law degree from SOAS London, followed by graduate degrees at Trinity College Dublin and Harvard. He worked for a number of years at the MPIL where he was responsible for overseas legal transfer projects, mainly in Afghanistan, followed by a long career as a management consultant focusing on public law and administrative reform in post-conflict settings. In recent years he has been a senior fellow at the EUI (Fernand Braudel), at the Norwegian Centre for Advanced Studies (Nordic Civil Wars in Comparative Perspective), at Harvard Law School (Islamic Legal Studies Program), and the National University of Singapore (Centre for Asian Legal Studies). He shares his life with a German Shepherd named Yoda.

Dr. Maria BERGER

Former Justice, Court of Justice of the European Union, Luxembourg

1975-1979 Dr. jur., Rechtswissenschaften & Volkswirtschaftslehre, Universität Innsbruck
1979-1984 Universitätsassistentin, Institut für Öffentliches Recht und Politikwissenschaften, Universität Innsbruck
1984-1988 Stellvertretende Abteilungsleiterin, Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung, Wien
1988-1989 Sachbearbeiterin für EU-Fragen, Bundeskanzleramt, Wien
1989-1992 Leiterin, Abteilung für Integrationspolitische Koordination, Bundeskanzleramt, Wien
  (Vorbereitung des Beitritts Österreichs zur Europäischen Union)
1993-1994 Direktorin, EFTA-Überwachungsbehörde, Genf und Brüssel
1995-1996 Vizepräsidentin, Donau-Universität Krems
1996-2007 Abgeordnete, Europäischen Parlaments & Mitglied des Rechtsausschusses
1997-2009 Mitglied, Gemeinderat der Stadtgemeinde Perg
2002-2003 Stellvertretendes Mitglied, Europäischen Konvents zur Zukunft Europas
2007-2008 Bundesministerin für Justiz, Wien
2008-2009 Abgeordnete, Europäischen Parlaments & Mitglied des Rechtsausschusses
2009-2019 Richterin, Europäisches Gerichtshof, Luxembourg

Mag.a. Sabine MATEJKA

President, Austrian Associaton of Judges, Vienna

1993 Studium, Anglistik und Geschichte, Universität Wien
1994-1999 Studium, Rechtswissenschaften, Universität Wien
1999-2000 Gerichtspraxis, Wien
2000-2004 Assistentin der Geschäftsführung und Projektmanagerin, EU Projekte in den Beitrittskandidatenländern im Bereich Gerichtsorganisation, Zivilprozessrecht, Konsumentenschutz, Insolvenzrecht, Asylrecht, CLC - Center of Legal Competence, Wien
2004-2008 Richteramtsanwärterin, Oberlandesgericht, Wien
2008 Ernennung zur Richterin
Sprengelrichterin, Bezirksgericht Favoriten, Bezirksgericht Leopoldstadt, Wien
2009-2019 Richterin, Bezirksgericht Leopoldstadt, Wien
2012-2016 Ausschussmitglied, Sektion Wien, Vereinigung der österreichischen Richterinnen und Richter, Wien
2013-2017 Vizepräsidentin, Vereinigung der österreichischen Richterinnen und Richter, Wien
seit 2017 Präsidentin, Vereinigung der österreichischen Richterinnen und Richter, Wien
seit 2019 Vorsteherin, Bezirksgericht Floridsdorf, Wien

Mag. Benedikt KOMMENDA

Managing Editor, "Rechtspanorama", Die Presse, Vienna

1981 Matura in Wien
1987 Mag. iur. an der Universität Wien
1988 Lehrredaktion in der Tageszeitung "Die Presse"
seit 1989 Redakteur, "Die Presse"
seit 1990 Verantwortlich für die wöchentlichen Schwerpunktseiten "Rechtspanorama", "Die Presse"
seit 1995 Chef vom Dienst, "Die Presse"
2010-2011 Lehraufträge an der Rechtswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Wien

Political and Legal Symposia

show timetable


17:00 - 18:45Opening of the Political SymposiumPlenary
19:45 - 20:45Promoting Stability in Wider Europe: The Role of the EU and the OSCEPlenary
20:30 - 21:00POLITICO Happy HourSocial


08:00 - 09:00ABGESAGT POLITICO Morning BriefingPlenary
08:00 - 09:00DER STANDARD Morning BriefingPlenary
09:00 - 13:30An Update on European Union LawBreakout
09:00 - 12:00Alpbach Mindfulness HikeBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 01: Promoting the SDGs in Europe with a Global MindsetBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 02: Experimental Government and the Story of Basic Income in FinlandBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 03: Demography and DemocracyBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 04: Digital Diplomacy vs Digital ColonialismBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 05: How We Benefit from Empowering the Young in PoliticsBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 06: Lost in Translation? The EU’s Struggle to Speak with One Voice on Foreign PolicyBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 07: Extremism, Disinformation and the Role of New TechnologiesBreakout
14:00 - 18:00Democracy BootcampBreakout
14:00 - 15:30Opening of the Legal SymposiumPlenary
14:00 - 16:00Liberty and Responsibility: Two Sides of the Same Coin?Partner
14:00 - 16:00Security Radar 2019: Wake-up Call for Europe!Partner
16:00 - 17:00Growing Sustainably: Africa on the MovePlenary
16:00 - 17:30Ideology in the Courtroom: How Impartial Are Judges?Plenary
17:30 - 18:30What Can Be Done against the Climate Crisis?Plenary
18:00 - 19:30How Free Is the Press Across the EU?Plenary
19:00 - 20:00What Does the World Think? A Conversation on Fundamental Philosophical QuestionsPlenary
20:00 - 23:30ReceptionSocial
20:00 - 22:00European-Israeli DinnerSocial
20:30 - 21:30Less Freedom for More Security?Plenary


08:00 - 09:00DER STANDARD Morning BriefingPlenary
08:00 - 09:00POLITICO Morning BriefingPlenary
09:00 - 12:00Alpbach Mindfulness HikeBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 08: Emissions Trading: an Effective Way to Reduce EmissionsBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 09: When Machines Judge PeopleBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 10: How Free Should Trade Be? The Development of European Standards for Trade and Foreign Direct InvestmentsBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 11: International Arms Trade Regulations: A Call for ActionBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 12: Does More Digital Freedom Automatically Mean Less Legal Security?Breakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 13: New Wars – New EpidemicsBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 14: Human Rights Under Pressure: The Role of Ombudspersons and National Human Rights InstitutionsBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 15: Security through Liberty: About the Will for Public OrderBreakout
10:00 - 12:00Breakout Session 16: A Pathway to Sustainable Business TransformationBreakout
14:00 - 15:30‘Soft Power’ or Defence Union? Military Cooperation in the European UnionPlenary
14:00 - 15:30The Struggle for the Rule of Law: Is the EU Fighting a Losing Battle?Plenary
14:00 - 18:00LAW Working GroupsBreakout
14:00 - 18:00Let’s Talk!Breakout
16:00 - 17:30Freedom of Speech at Universities: What Is (Still) Acceptable?Plenary
16:30 - 17:45Liberty and Security in the Context of International RelationsPlenary
18:15 - 19:15How Much Courage Does the Law Need?Plenary
20:30 - 22:00Speakers’ NightPlenary


09:00 - 12:00Alpbach Mindfulness HikeBreakout
09:30 - 11:00Brexit: Departure into the UnknownPlenary
11:30 - 13:00Tackling Complexity: Insights from the Alpbach Learning MissionsPlenary