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ERC Grants


ERC Advanced Grant
  • 2009 | Project Title: Shared Responsibility in International Law | Prof. dr. P.A. (André) Nollkaemper

    SHARES seeks to rethink the allocation of international responsibilities in cases where actors cooperate to pursue common international objectives, for example environmental protection and protection of human populations from mass atrocities. International cooperation may complicate attempts to determine who is responsible for what. SHARES is based on the unrecognized and unexplored fact that as the responsibility for policies is shared among more actors, the discrete responsibility of every individual actor is diminished proportionately. International cooperation paradoxically may undermine the key objectives of any scheme of responsibility : the protection of the international rule of law and the provision of remedies of injured parties. The dominant principle of individual responsibility, and the scholarship based on it, provides us neither with the concepts nor the perspectives for addressing shared responsibilities. SHARES will uncover the extent and nature of the problem of scattering of international responsibilities in cases of international cooperation and will provide fresh perspectives on how cooperation can be better matched by a corresponding system of international responsibility. It will pursue two interlocking tracks, focussing on principles and processes of international responsibility. As to principles, it will examine the possibility of holding multiple actors collectively, jointly or proportionately responsible. As to processes, SHARES will rethink how (quasi-)judicial processes may better taken into account the collective context of the international policies of states and other actors. SHARES will complement a conceptual and theoretical foundation with a thorough empirical approach, exploring through case-studies how we can improve our understanding of the principles and processes that are needed to match the unprecedented international cooperation with a proper system of shared responsibility.

ERC Consolidator Grant
  • 2018 | Project Title: Homo Juridicus: Correcting Law's Behavioural Illiteracy | Prof. dr. Benjamin van Rooij

    Recent scientific research has revolutionised our understanding of how law can reduce misconduct. It shows that legal incentives are often flawed, and that strict punishment alone cannot deter misbehaviour. It offers a new approach for law to address wrongdoing, incorporating social norms and morals, tapping into unconscious cognition, and applying practical and technical interventions that obstruct misconduct. Yet, these fundamental insights continue to be ignored, and with every new disaster, scandal or major risk, we produce more rules with stronger punishment, without successfully addressing the true behavioural mechanisms at fault. The core problem is that the field of law has not made conduct central, nor produced a behavioural legal theory to guide these scientific insights into legal research, education and practice. As a result, legal rules to code conduct are made and operated by lawyers that are behaviourally illiterate. The proposed research will instigate the necessary behavioural revolution in the field of law. To do so, it will develop a behavioural jurisprudence through three steps. First, it will provide a comprehensive synthesis of the scientific insights about how legal rules affect misconduct. Second, it will empirically analyse flaws and biases in the behavioural assumptions of lawyers tasked with addressing misconduct. This will produce a fundamental critique of existing legal thinking, to be summarized in the Homo Juridicus, shorthand for the flawed legal model of human conduct just like behavioural economics helped produce the Homo Economicus to show the fallacies in traditional economic thinking. Third, the research will synthesize this into a behavioural jurisprudence offering a normative framework that makes successful internalization of positive conduct central in the field of law, and that guides legal research and education to incorporate the social science to enhance the effectiveness of law to improve behaviour.

ERC Starting Grant
  • 2019 | Project Title: Law as Vehicle for Social Change: Mainstreaming Non-Extractive Economic Practices | Prof. dr. Marija Bartl

    The current economic model is overdue for revision. The relentless focus on economic growth is ravaging the environment, and the concomitant social problems have either already reached glaring levels (rocketing global inequality) or seem poised to do so (climate displaced persons). A number of radical proposals, such as prosperity without growth, circular economy, or doughnut economics, have been proposed to chart a trajectory towards socio-ecological transformation, arguing that a profound change in our ways of living and modes of production is necessary in order to respond to the threats we face. Yet such proposals, however commendable, have gained only modest political traction, insofar as they seem unthinkable from the vantage point of our current economic system, consumption patterns, political discourse and legal institutions. This project will show how law can contribute to making such transformative projects politically credible. More specifically, it will demonstrate how law, and private law in particular, can be used to nurture those existing economic practices that already build on the environmental and social aspirations embodied by such projects. The two main objectives are, first, to offer a set of legal tools and policy proposals that would make the adoption of environmentally and socially non-extractive economic practices, such as social cooperatives or solidary financial institutions, more attractive for people to implement. Second, N-EXTLAW theorizes how law can turn seemingly utopian projects for socio-ecological transformation into a realistic legal-political project. By refashioning the concrete socio-legal arrangements for pursuing non-extractive economic practices as well as re-shaping the values on which economic decision-making draws, law can make non-extractive economic practices more present in everyday action, and thereby uphold those cultural frames that affirm the sense that socio-ecological transformation is within our reach.

  • 2017 | Project Title: The Disrupted Society: mapping the societal effects of blockchain technology diffusion | Dr. Balázs Bodó

    Recent advances in cryptography yielded the blockchain technology, which enables a radically new and decentralized method to maintain authoritative records, without the need of trusted intermediaries. Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency blockchain application has already demonstrated that it is possible to operate a purely cryptography-based, global, distributed, decentralized, anonymous financial network, independent from central and commercial banks, regulators and the state. The same technology is now being applied to other social domains (e.g. public registries of ownership and deeds, voting systems, the internet domain name registry). But research on the societal impact of blockchain innovation is scant, and we cannot properly assess its risks and promises. In addition, crucial knowledge is missing on how blockchain technologies can and should be regulated by law. The BlockchainSociety project focuses on three research questions. (1) What internal factors contribute to the success of a blockchain application? (2) How does society adopt blockchain? (3) How to regulate blockchain? It breaks new ground as it (1) maps the most important blockchain projects, their governance, and assesses their disruptive potential; (2) documents and analyses the social diffusion of the technology, and builds scenarios about the potential impact of blockchain diffusion; and (3) it creates an inventory of emerging policy responses, compares and assesses policy tools in terms of efficiency and impact. The project will (1) build the conceptual and methodological bridges between information law, the study of the self-governance of technological systems via Science and Technology Studies, and the study of collective control efforts of complex socio-technological assemblages via Internet Governance studies; (2) address the most pressing blockchain-specific regulatory challenges via the analysis of emerging policies, and the development of new proposals.

  • 2014 | Project Title: Profiling and targeting news readers – implications for the democratic role of the digital media, user rights and public information policy | Prof. dr. Natali Helberger

    In the digital media environment, user attention is scarce and competition for ‘eyeballs’ is fierce. Profiling and targeting readers with customised news and advertisements that match their individual interests is widely seen as a solution. The personalization of news media content enables new financing strategies and means to capture the audience’s attention. But personalisation is also part of a more fundamental paradigm shift in the media’s role from public interest intermediary to personal information coach. This research will answer critical questions about the implications for individual users and contribute to a new normative theory of the role of personalised media in a democratic society. To do so, this project integrates legal research, communication sciences and political sciences, undertakes comparative, normative and evidence-based research, and carries out experiments, interviews and a survey. Two communication science postdocs will conduct empirical research into user concerns, the conditions that affect users’ acceptance of media personalisation (postdoc 1), and how personalisation affects journalistic practices and ethics (postdoc 2). Informed by these insights, two PhD students will scrutinise the legal framework and answer important questions about the legal protection of the public’s trust in editorial integrity (PhD 1) and autonomous, non-discriminatory information access (PhD 2). The PI will develop a normative framework of personalised media, based on the empirical research and political theories about the democratic role of the media. This responds to the criticism that existing theories are increasingly disconnected from the realities of digital media and their distinct contribution to democratic and participatory processes. The project will explore the potential of personalisation to expose citizens to more relevant or diverse content, thus reversing widespread concerns about information overload, filter bubbles and selective exposure.

  • 2012 | Project Title: Transnational Private-Public Arbitration as Global Regulatory Governance: Charting and Codifying the Lex Mercatoria Publica | Prof. dr. Stephan W.B. Schill

    The proposed research will analyze the rising phenomenon of transnational arbitrations between private economic actors and public law bodies as a mechanism of global regulatory governance. It breaks with the prevailing view that arbitration involves no more than settling individual disputes and hypothesizes instead that arbitrators generate the rules governing public-private relations rather independently of specific domestic legal systems and their democratic processes, and thereby prospectively steer and restrict government conduct. The body of law thus crafted by arbitral tribunals is what the project designates as lex mercatoria publica, in allusion to the a-national law generated by arbitral tribunals in international private-private disputes. Unlike existing research, the proposed project will provide a comprehensive (historic, sociological, political, economic, and legal) perspective on the lex mercatoria publica and explore its legitimacy. It will, by empirically charting the modern and historic practice of private-public arbitration, describe and analyze the content of the lex mercatoria publica and develop, through comparative law research, normative criteria to assess the legitimacy of private-public arbitrations in democratic societies that are based on the rule of law. The research will result in a comprehensive online database and a codification of both the principles of private-public arbitration and of the lex mercatoria publica as developed and applied by arbitral tribunals. The project will enable arbitrators, judges, and other international and national decision-makers to render more predictable, more circumspect, overall better, and fairer decisions concerning private-public arbitration. This will provide solid foundations for enhancing transnational private-public arbitration as an institution of global regulatory governance in the interest of better and more efficient cooperation between states and private economic actors in the global economy.

NWO Veni, Vidi, Vici grants


NWO Rubicon


NWO Gravitation programme

  • 2022 | Prof. dr. Natali Helberger (FdR) and Prof. dr. C.H. (Claes) de Vreese (FMG)

    The use of AI and digital technology in the world around us continues to grow, and that has countless legal, ethical, social and democratic implications. In the project ‘The algorithmic society’ (ALGOSOC) Helberger and De Vreese, along with fellow researchers within and outside the UvA, investigate how we can safeguard public values and human rights within the development of automated and semi-automated processes, including Artificial Intelligence.

    The ALGOSOC programme aims at contributing cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research insights that will help us safeguard our fundamental rights and public values within the ‘algorithmic society’, and create the necessary governance frameworks. Strong, interdisciplinary and systematic research into how digital technologies influence citizens and users in various sectors is badly needed in order to be able to safeguard a healthy algorithmic society in which the rules are clear.

NWO Hestia

  • 2019 | Secondary Liability for International Crimes – Case Study of Syria

    Applicant: Prof. dr. mr. G.K. Sluiter
    Institution: Amsterdam University
    Candidate: Ahmad A Zien

    The Project explores the assistance to the commission of mass atrocities in the Syrian conflict and the potential of the law to hold those responsible to account. On the basis of the Syrian case study, recommendations for improving the accountability regime will be formulated.

Members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)