Public event

STARLIGHT Year II launch webinar: The power of strategic litigation in the EU

Are you a lawyer, passionate about protecting fundamental rights across Europe, and eager to develop your skills and knowledge to unlock the power of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter)? If so, STARLIGHT is for you. 

The Charter is an underused tool in the struggle to protect rights across Europe. Yet, it has huge potential, and with rights under attack across many countries in the region, the imperative to equip EU lawyers with the skills and knowledge to use the Charter to protect rights, is increasingly important.  

STARLIGHT - Strategic Litigation for Rights in Europe - will train and support a cohort of lawyers to use EU law in the protection of rights. The programme focuses firstly on the use of the Charter in three thematic areas: the rule of law, asylum and migration and criminal justice, and secondly on the skills to engage in strategic litigation. It draws on the expertise of academics, lawyers and practitioners who have worked on recent, precedent setting cases, before the Court of Justice of the European Union and through lectures and legal clinics develop model legal arguments to support future litigation.  

STARLIGHT’s target audience are human rights lawyers working with or at human rights NGOs in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria.

The programme combines online learning with an in-person training workshop. Year I ended September 2023 and applications for year II is open until 29 October 2023. 

STARLIGHT is a joint programme of the Hertie School and Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), in collaboration with the Hertie School Centre for Fundamental Rights.  

The webinar is also co-hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.  

The project is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme of the European Union. 

STARLIGHT will launch online on Friday, 13 October 2023 at 10:00-11:30 CET.

To receive more information about STARLIGHT, the launch and the application process, see the programme below or email starlight[at]hertie-school[dot]org



10:00 – 10.10 | Welcome  
Kerstin McCourt ( Moderator), STARLIGHT Project Director 

Marta Pardavi, Co-chair, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, STARLIGHT Steering Group 

10:10 – 10.50 | The Power of Strategic Litigation in the European Union and panel discussion
Prof. Başak Çalı, PhD, Professor of International Law | Co-Director, Centre for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School and STARLIGHT Committee of Experts Member 

Prof. Dr. Patrick Krauskopf, ZHAW School of Management and Law and STARLIGHT Trainer  

Gruša Matevžič, Senior Legal Officer, Refugee Programme, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Judit Zeller, Senior Legal Officer, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Niki Bibudis, Gentium

Ingrid Bellander Todino, Head of Unit Fundamental Rights Policy, European Commission

11.00-11.20 | Presentation of the STARLIGHT programme structure and application process + Q&A

11:20-11.30 | Screening of STARLIGHT workshop video



  • Kersty McCourt is a human rights lawyer and advocate with over eighteen years’ experience leading human rights, justice reform and civil society programs. For the last 12 years she led advocacy programmes at Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Justice Initiative and from 2017-2020 was the co-chair of the Human Rights and Democracy Network in Brussels. 

    From 2005, Kersty was Head of Mission for the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Rwanda and subsequently developed access to justice programmes for DIHR across several countries. She qualified as a solicitor with Taylor Wessing Solicitors in London and is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales. 

    She has a degree in Biological Sciences and a Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization. She has designed and taught master’s courses on human rights defenders at the Global Campus for Human Rights in Venice, Yerevan, and Beirut. 

  • Márta Pardavi is co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. A lawyer by training, she has recently been focusing on the threats to the rule of law and civil society space in Hungary and in the EU. She also co-leads the Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) programme, which equips human rights defenders to build stronger organisations and alliances for joint action on civic space and rule of law in the EU.

    Márta serves on the boards of PILnet, International Partnership for Human Rights and Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. She has been awarded the 2018 William D. Zabel Human Rights Award from Human Rights First, the Civil Rights Defenders of the Year 2019 award from Civil Rights Defender’s, and was chosen to be a member of POLITICO28 Class of 2019. In 2020/2021, she was a Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute’s School of Transnational Governance in Florence, Italy.

  • Başak Çalı is Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights. She is an expert in international law and institutions, international human rights law and policy. She has authored publications on theories of international law, the relationship between international law and domestic law, standards of review in international law, interpretation of human rights law, legitimacy of human rights courts and implementation of human rights judgments. She is the Chair of European Implementation Network and a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex. She has acted as a Council of Europe expert on the European Convention on Human Rights since 2002. She has extensive experience in training members of the judiciary and lawyers across Europe in the field of human rights law. She received her PhD in International Law from the University of Essex in 2003.

  • Prof. Dr. Patrick L. Krauskopf is Professor for Competition Law at the Zurich University ZHAW, Chairman of both AGON’s Partners Legal AG as well as Public Affairs AG and Member of Switzerland’s Communication Commission. He is the Chairman of the Litigation PR Conference and, according to the Swiss media, the “pope” auf Litigation PR in Switzerland. Previously, he was, inter alia, a law clerk with the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, both the deputy director and then the chief of international affairs with the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO). With the WTO, UNCTAD, ICN and CUTS he frequently appears as an expert on competition law. During his mandate at COMCO, he led the revision of the Swiss Cartel Act 2003, the Ordinance on Fines and Leniency Program 2004, the Communication on Car Distribution (BER) 2002, and the Communication (BER) on Vertical Restraints 2007. He studied at the Universities of Fribourg and Berkeley (Master’s, 1991; Ph.D., 1999) and at Harvard Law School (LL.M., 2005). He is admitted to all Swiss courts as well as in New York.

  • Gruša Matevžič graduated from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana and started to work in the field of asylum, providing legal counselling to asylum seekers within the Legal-information centre for NGOs in Slovenia. In 2009, after completing a Master’s in human rights law at CEU, Budapest, she joined the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, where she currently works as a senior legal officer within the Refugee Programme. She coordinates the work of the strategic litigation team and works on several transnational projects. In 2010, she obtained an international diploma in mental health law and human rights, at the WHO and Indian law society, Pune. She is also a refugee counsellor and the ELENA coordinator for Slovenia. 

  • Judit Zeller currently works as a senior legal expert at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (since 2016) and as an associate professor at the Faculty of Law University of Pécs (since 2022), where she teaches human rights law and psychology. Judit graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pécs with an MA in law as well as in psychology and holds a PhD in law. She wrote her thesis on reproductive rights and embryo research. Her current academic interest focuses on challenges of human rights in the 21st century, especially in the field of social rights. 

    She has work experience as a legal officer from the Hungarian ombudsman’s office, where she dealt with children’s rights cases and with access to healthcare and patients’ rights. Later she was the member of the expert team conducting visits to closed institutions. 

    At the HCLU she works in the Privacy Project. She coordinates strategic litigation and advocacy of cases concerning privacy in general and in the health care system (patients’ rights) and in the educational system (children’s rights and parental rights) in particular. Since 2022 she focuses on strategic litigation in the Hungarian education system: children’s right to education, state obligations concerning the right to education and teacher’s right to strike. 

  • Niki Bibudis holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Zaragoza (Spain). She graduated with distinction in a Master of EU Laws, Migration, and Human Rights from Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) in 2017. Shortly after, Niki worked as a legal advisor and local project manager for SOS Racism. Subsequently, she joined traineeship programs at the Council of Europe Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Then, Niki returned to the field to provide legal advice to asylum seekers stranded at the VIAL Hotspot joining the team of legal practitioners at Equal Rights Beyond Borders. From one emergency context to another, she then moved to the United Kingdom to work as Refugee Support Casework Coordinator for the British Red Cross. She worked as a Refugee Status Determination Case Officer at the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) Operation in Cyprus before joining Gentium. 

  • Ingrid Bellander Todino is Head of the Fundamental Rights Policy unit of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST). Previously, she was member of the cabinet of Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, and has held Deputy Head of Unit and team leader roles in the areas of gender equality, procedural criminal law and victims’ rights in DG JUST, as well as programme manager for the Daphne Programme on combatting violence against children, young people and women. Before joining the European Commission in 2004, Ingrid worked as legal counsel for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a UN agency based in Rome, and has also practiced EU law in an international law firm in Brussels. She holds a law degree from Uppsala University in Sweden and a post-graduate Master’s degree in EU law from the Institute of European Studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.