About the Research Group Fundamental Rights & Constitutionalism (FRC)

The Research Group on Fundamental Rights & Constitutionalism (FRC) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) focuses on prospective and analytical research in the broad area of constitutionalism and of human rights, understood as legal instruments and capital human values. The FRC research group brings together academics that are (mostly) active in VUB departments in the broader area of public law (social security law, constitutional law, criminology, international law and interdisciplinary law).

The predecessor of the research group (the Research Group on Human Rights (HUMR) – was founded in January 1999. Its founding members where Serge Gutwirth (dir.), Stefaan Smis (secr.), A. De Nauw, B. De Schutter, C. Eliaerts, E. Franckx, J. Gorus, K. Leus, S. Snacken, M. Stroobant, A. Backs, S. Baeten, K. Bodard, P. De Hert, A. Detaille, M. Martens, K. Meerschaut, M. Najjar and K. Van Der Borght.

In 2010 the group changed names to broaden the scope and to include next to traditional human rights law also fundamental rights and constitutional questions.

Today FRC is driven by a board of 10 experienced professors and consists of about twenty internal and external researchers, with four postdoctoral researchers and 12 junior researchers in the area of human rights and constitutional law. Some of the members have also non-academic activities and work in law firms of within the government. Amongst its member are a judge in the Belgian Constitutional Court, and a judge in the highest administrative Court (Conseil d’Etat).


The research group allows the members of the VUB Faculty of Law & Criminology to come together to share work, to organise conferences and to carry out legal research. FRC has organised several international conferences on a range of topics: the International Criminal Court (2001), Free speech and the need to combat racism, African human rights (2004), human rights and multinationals (2006) and human rights and international institutions (2007), the right to have a counsellor during a police interrogation (2010).

At the faculty level, FRC is one of the driving forces behind the ‘Law and Criminology Talks’, small or medium size seminars open to public and students (see for a list https://www.vub.be/RG/ under ‘Onderzoek’)

Its members are editors of book series or member of editorial board of leading international journals such as the Supranational Criminal Law Series (Intersentia) Criminal Law & Philosophy (Springer), the Inter-American and European Human Rights Journal (Intersentia), the New Journal of European Criminal Law (Intersentia) and Human Rights and International LegalDiscourse (Intersentia)

In Belgium FRC members are active in journals such as Tijdschrift voor Mensenrechten, Publiekrechtelijke Kronieken-Chronique de Droit Public, (C.D.P.K.), Tijdschrift voor Gemeenterecht, De Juristenkrant¸ Wereldwijd. Tijdschrift voor de VN, Tijdschrift voor Strafrecht en Tijdschrift voor Politierecht (Vigiles).

The research group has established cooperation agreements and works together with the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of Utrecht University, the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, the Washington College of Law of American University, the Department of Public Law of the University of the Western Cape, the Roosevelt Academy, and the University of Pretoria. The annual International Human Rights Academy (IHRA), a summer school, is one of the results of these cooperation agreements (http://www.law.uu.nl/ihra/institutions.html).


With regard to ‘classical’ human rights law FRC members carry out research on international law, international and European criminal law, dispute settlement, human rights law and self-determination as well as regional international law and regional integration in Africa).With regard to the broader issue of constitutionalism FRC members look at access to justice law, the organisation of legal safeguards in administrative law, non-discrimination law, social security rights, privacy law, law and religion, and defence rights in public law.

Currently, FRC has been awarded projects with regard to human rights implications for transnational firms, law and religion; use of statistics in non-discrimination law, international and European criminal law.

Created with © by Alexander Riegler