The GFF goes to court with its partners to protect human rights in Germany and Europe.
Strategic litigation is an indispensable instrument in ensuring that the government respects fundamental and human rights. Judicial precedent plays a key role both at German and European courts in guiding legal development. The Federal Constitutional Court can even overrule laws and provide authoritative guidance to the German Parliament. The GFF is doing pioneering work in the field of strategic litigation for fundamental and human rights in Germany.
Three crucial aspects of our success are:
- Having a long-term strategy for the protection of fundamental and human rights;
- Carefully selecting our cases in light of that strategy; and
- working in strong alliances with plaintiffs, lawyers and NGOs.
A systematic approach, reliability and perseverance
"Big" cases need to be carefully built. We unite competence and resources in order to promote fundamental rights in the best possible way. To this end, we add additional lawyers with a high level of professional expertise to our team, continuously educate ourselves and cooperate with external academics and lawyers on specialist issues. We network, we build alliances with other organisations and we draw media attention to the flaws in our constitutional system that weaken the rule of law.
The following standards guide us in selecting our cases:
- We stand up for a free society based on solidarity and are committed to combatting discrimination, marginalization and surveillance.
- We fight for legal decisions that transcend the individual case.
- We mainly defend citizens against the state. However, fundamental rights also shape relationships with companies and other private actors. If we get involved in such situations, we always side with those that lack a strong lobby advocating for their fundamental rights. This includes for example tenants, the free press, informational self-determination, and those who experience discrimination and exclusion
- As a growing organization we focus on four key work areas: strong fundamental rights for a vibrant democracy, freedom in the digital age, equal rights and anti-discrimination and social participation.
In selected thematic areas, we also get involved in ways beyond bringing legal challenges. In order to prevent laws that violate fundamental rights from being passed, we weigh in on the legislative process, for example by contributing constitutional arguments. In cooperation with our partners, we accompany our cases with legally sound lobbying and advocacy work.
The GFF accompanies its cases with legal expertise and active, information-oriented public relations work. It is part of our strategy to generate broad attention for an issue and to stimulate debates in society. In the media, the GFF promotes reporting that is factually correct and gives fundamental rights issues the focus they deserve. We explain complicated legal issues in an accessible manner. This approach guarantees that we not only address individual issues, but also achieve that sustainable effects for fundamental and human rights both on a legal and on a societal level.
Every case promotes human rights
Winning a case in court is an obvious measure of success. However, it is precisely cases that are difficult to win, with new or unresolved legal issues, that can present opportunities for human rights. Lawsuits and court cases can strategically build on each other - a lost case can provide important groundwork for a later, bigger case at a higher judicial instance, which will then have a better chance of success.
Moreover, regardless of the outcome, each lawsuit creates an opportunity to engage with the public regarding fundamental rights issues, to raise awareness of a problem and to provide a new perspective on it jointly with those individuals affected by it. Even - or especially - spectacular defeats for fundamental rights can help prepare the ground for legislative change or a political measures.