Reform of the European Court of Human Rights
To ensure its effectiveness
On 31 August 2011, some 160 200 cases were pending before the European Court of Human Rights. The explosive growth of litigation in the last ten years is due not only to the accession of new Council of Europe member states but also to a massive inflow of individual applications from both old and new member states. This situation poses a threat to the effective functioning of the Court. If it is to fulfil its essential functions, the processing of cases that are manifestly inadmissible or purely repetitive must be speeded up as a matter of urgency.
The reform of the Court, begun back in 2001, was the subject of a new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, Protocol No. 14. This was opened for signature in 2004 and entered into force on 1 June 2010. Its purpose is to guarantee the long-term efficiency of the Court by optimising the screening and processing of applications. It envisages, among other measures, the creation of new judicial formations for the simplest cases, a new admissibility criterion (the existence of ''significant disadvantage'') and introduces a nine-year non-renewable term of office for judges.
Pending the final ratification that will allow the instrument to come into force and in order to provide a temporary but quick solution to the Court's excessive caseload, a new Protocol No. 14bis was adopted in May 2009 during the session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in Madrid. This protocol contained procedural measures taken from Protocol No.14 to increase the Court's case-processing capacity as rapidly as possible. This text ceased to be in force or applied on a provisional basis as from 1 June 2010, date of entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention.
The Council of Europe has launched a public consultation on the longer-term future of Europe's human rights system, based on the European Convention on Human Rights and the European court in Strasbourg.
Individuals and organisations are invited to send contributions on any aspect of the convention system, such as:
• Future challenges to the convention and the court
• The role of the court in helping to protect and interpret individual rights
• Possible reforms to help cut the backlog of cases at the court
• The procedure for implementing court judgments and the role of national authorities
• Payment of compensation to applicants
Initial contributions should be submitted by 12 noon CET on Monday 27 January 2014. Selected contributors may be invited to take part in further discussions.
A group including national experts nominated by Council of Europe member governments will review the information gathered. A report will subsequently be submitted to the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers by 15 April 2015.
This process is a result of the 2012 Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights.
Ministers and senior representatives from the Council of Europe's 47 member countries gathered in Brighton from 18 to 20 April to discuss possible reforms to the European Court of Human Rights.
UK Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, formally opened the conference, followed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, the President of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Jean-Claude Mignon, and the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza. (more...)