Skip to main content
Post by: Nicholas Farnsworth 
After seven incredible weeks, my internship experience with the ECLJ in Strasbourg officially came to an end last week.  As mentioned in my first blog post several weeks ago, my first assignment was to help write a set of observations (essentially a brief) regarding a transsexual rights case pending before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which the ECLJ submitted to the Court on June 14.  The Court has yet to take further action on the case, but the ECLJ is confident that its arguments—outlining the destabilizing and contradictory effects that a decision requiring recognition of a child’s biological mother as the legal father would have on existing domestic laws and long-established legal and social norms—may persuade the Court into taking a more reserved stance on this issue, for now.  Indeed, the ECHR’s modern tendency to base its decisions on the evolution of public opinion means that victory is never fully assured, even after a favorable ruling has been obtained.  If the Court discerns that political, social, and cultural conditions are not currently conducive to a particular expansion of “individual rights” under Article 8 of the European Convention, it will simply bide its time until the forces of progressive activism have shifted popular opinion enough that it can render such a ruling without a significant risk of intense public backlash.  Thus, it is imperative to always remain fully alert and engaged.
After completing the observations for the ECHR, I spent the rest of my internship translating numerous legal documents from French to English. They included articles on the potential legalization of abortion in Monaco, the ECLJ’s contribution to a pending UN report on surrogacy, and the ECLJ’s responses to ten commonly held statements/opinions regarding France’s recent (and sadly, successful) attempt to euthanize Vincent Lambert, a 42 year-old paraplegic man with severe mental disabilities who tragically passed away two weeks ago after the French government succeeded (following a lengthy battle in domestic and international court) in obtaining judicial authorization to permanently remove his nutrition and hydration tubes.  In addition, I worked on translating another set of observations (written by one of my colleagues while I was writing the observations for the O.H. v. Germany case) on a dispute out of Turkey involving that country’s alleged violation of the property rights of a minority religious organization.  Due to my status as the only native English speaker in the office, I was also asked to apply my editing and proofreading skills to a number of English translations performed by other staff.  This included, among other things, a detailed report cataloguing the harmful effects of artificial contraceptives on women’s health and advocating for the greater use and promotion of natural contraception methods, which was presented as part of an ECLJ-sponsored conference at the Council of Europe.  In addition to aiding my French language skills, these tasks significantly increased my awareness and understanding of the various fronts on which the ideological battle between Christian/natural law principles and post-modern relativism is currently being fought, as well as the specific arguments and reasoning employed by both sides in advancing their views on each issue.  
When I first arrived in Strasbourg, I knew I would likely be exposed to a variety of highly controversial and provocative issues, and that I would be crafting arguments to support and defend a Biblical worldview on these topics.  What I was not expecting, however, was the degree to which I would be educated on the philosophical underpinnings of this epic struggle.  In proofreading the English translation of (ECLJ Director) Dr. Puppinck’s new book chronicling the development of human rights since the creation of the Universal Declaration and European Convention on Human Rights during the late 1940s, I came to understand that most of the issues on which legal advocacy and media attention is focused today are actually the external outgrowths of much deeper disagreements on the fundamental questions of human nature and existence.  A full explanation of the key principles, assumptions, and presuppositions underlying the modern progressive movement and its exaltation of “individual rights” would fill another two blog posts, so if you are interested in learning exactly why modern progressivists believe what they do, and why they champion the same-sex marriage, transgender recognition, pro-choice, right to die, and other similar causes so fiercely, I highly encourage you to keep an eye out for the English version of Dr. Puppinck’s new book, which is due to be released later this year.  I am especially grateful to the ECLJ, the Center for Global Justice, and the supporters of these organizations for giving me the chance to immerse myself in another culture, acquire a deeper understanding of my own worldview, and deploy my legal skills on behalf of Biblical truth and justice in Europe this summer.  I met so many wonderful individuals during my adventures there and was blessed with an array of extraordinary travel and social experiences that I will never forget. 
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.