What is the Convention of States

Background current

1950 brought decisive progress for human rights in Europe: the "Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" was passed.

The building of the European Court of Human Rights. (& copy JOKER)

Anyone who sees their fundamental and human rights violated can sue the state in many European countries. The highest authority in this legal process is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), founded in 1959 and based in Strasbourg. It was created with the European Convention on Human Rights ("Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", ECHR), compliance with which it watches over. The convention was signed in Rome on November 4, 1950, and entered into force on September 3, 1953.

Human rights in Europe

It was decided by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, a European international organization founded in 1949. The Council of Europe is not an institution of the European Union and should not be confused with the European Council of EU Heads of State and Government.

Almost two years had passed from the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, to the signing of the ECHR. Although the content of the European Convention on Human Rights is closely based on it, it goes beyond a mere declaration of intent: for example, legal action and legal protection instruments were anchored in the convention and an authority to enforce rights was created with the ECHR.

Ratified by 47 states

The twelve states that signed the convention at the time include Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom. To date, 47 states have ratified the convention, including Russia, Ukraine and Switzerland. Each signatory state usually sends a judge, but these are independent and not representatives of their respective state.

Belarus (Belarus) and Kosovo are the only European states that have not signed the Convention; the Vatican State, Israel, Japan, Canada, Mexico and the United States have observer status. The European Union has not yet acceded to the ECHR.

Prohibition of torture and forced labor

The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees all people within its member states a number of freedoms and fundamental rights. These include the right to life, freedom of conscience and religion, and the right to freedom of expression. The convention prohibits torture, degrading sentences, forced labor and discrimination.

With the European Court of Human Rights, an international control mechanism has been created to monitor compliance with these rights. However, it only takes action if one or more persons, non-governmental organizations or states submit a complaint or lawsuit and have previously asserted their complaint at national level. The Court of Justice then examines whether one or more Member States are violating the rights set out in the Convention and delivers a judgment. Its judgments are legally binding and their implementation is monitored by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers.

Additional protocol makes the ECHR a permanent supervisory authority

The European Convention on Human Rights has been amended or supplemented over the years with 16 additional protocols. Additional Protocol 11 from 1994, which was ratified on November 1, 1998, had the most far-reaching effects: It made the ECHR the sole and permanent supervisory body for complaints with full-time judges. Before that, a European Commission for Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had also been responsible supervisory bodies.

Often the decisions of the ECHR are trend-setting and have also led to changes in national legislation. Following rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, the UK banned corporal punishment in public schools, Cyprus ended criminal prosecutions for homosexual relationships and Italy initiated reforms to combat domestic violence. For example, based on several rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, Germany created a law to protect against inappropriately lengthy court proceedings.

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