Entities to which International Guarantees Apply

M A v Sweden (decision), 14 January 1998 [ECtHR]


Case no 32721/96

1.The applicant complains firstly that his obligation to be a member of the student union violates his right to negative freedom of association under Article 11 (Art. 11) of the Convention. (...)
The Commission recalls that the protection under Article 11 (Art. 11), including the right to negative freedom of association (cf. Eur. Court HR, Sigurdur A. Sigurjónsson v. Iceland judgment of 30 June 1993, Series A no. 264, pp. 15-16, para. 35), is offered only in respect of trade unions and other private-law associations. Public-law institutions fall outside the ambit of Article 11 (Art. 11) (cf. Eur. Court HR, Le Compte, Van Leuven and De Meyere v. Belgium judgment of 23 June 1981, Series A no. 43, pp. 26-27, paras. 64-65).
As to the circumstances of the present case, the Commission considers that the object of the Swedish student unions is to secure student participation in the administration of the universities (cf. No. 6094/73, Dec. 6.7.77, D.R. 9, p. 5). The organisation and activities of the unions are governed by law and the universities, which are public institutions, exercise a certain control over the unions, e.g. by approving their statutes and by determining certain membership questions. Moreover, decisions of the unions may be subject to a review, albeit limited, by university bodies.
Having regard to the above, the student unions cannot be considered as associations within the meaning of Article 11 (Art. 11) of the Convention. Noting, furthermore, that the unions are democratically organised and that the students are free to disagree with political or other opinions adopted by union bodies and to form or join other student associations, the Commission considers that the applicant's obligation to be a member of Stockholms Universitets Studentkår does not interfere with his rights under Article 11 (Art. 11).
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention. 

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