Reform of the system of the European Convention of Human Rights
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About the reform

History of the reform


Plenary bodies

Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

Committee of Experts on the system of the European Convention on Human Rights (DH-SYSC)

Drafting Groups







Information concerning the implementation of the Convention and execution of the Court's judgments

Re-examination or reopening of cases following judgments of the Court
Verification of the compatibility of legislation with the Convention


High level Conferences

Brussels, 26-27 March 2015


Brighton, 18-20 April 2012

Background documents

Izmir, 26-27 April 2011

Background documents

Interlaken, 18-19 February 2010

Preparatory contributions
Background documents

History of the Reform

The European Convention on Human Rights is fundamental to human rights protection in Europe and lies at the heart of the activities of the Council of Europe. Over time, the Convention system has grown and evolved in response to changing circumstances. The on-going process of reform is essential to its continuing relevance and effectiveness.
This process, although often referred to as reform of the Court, involves action concerning not only the judicial control mechanism but also national implementation of the Convention and execution of the Court’s judgments, including supervision of this execution by the Committee of Ministers.

The Court was given its current jurisdiction by Protocol no. 11 to the Convention, which entered into force on 1 November 1998, with further changes being made to its judicial formations and procedures by Protocol no. 14, which entered into force on 1 June 2010.

Following adoption of Protocol no. 14 in 2004, the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member States (Warsaw, May 2005) set up a Group of Wise Persons to consider the long-term effectiveness of the Convention control mechanism, including the initial effects of Protocol No. 14 and the related reform package. The Group of Wise Persons reported to the Committee of Ministers in November 2006. In 2007, the “Reflection Group for the Follow-up of the Reform of the Court” (DH-S-GDR) was established, under the authority of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), to examine further the proposals made by the Group of Wise Persons.
In May 2009, with the Court’s case-load continuing to increase and Protocol no. 14 awaiting the final ratification needed for its entry into force, the States Parties adopted Protocol no. 14bis and the “Madrid Agreement”, both of which allowed certain provisions of the Protocol to be provisionally applied with respect to those States that so accepted.

Shortly thereafter, Switzerland agreed to organise under its Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers a High-level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights. This conference took place at Interlaken in February 2010 and resulted in a Declaration, reaffirming the States’ commitment to the Convention system and giving fresh impetus to the reform process. Immediately prior to the conference, the final ratification of Protocol no. 14 was lodged, thereby allowing it to enter fully into force on 1 June 2010.

The Interlaken Conference was followed by further High-level Conferences organised by the Turkish Chairmanship at Izmir in April 2011 and the United Kingdom Chairmanship at Brighton in April 2012, also resulting in Declarations. Extensive inter-governmental work on follow-up to these Declarations is foreseen to continue through 2013 and on into 2015. Since late 2009, this work has in the first place been undertaken under the authority of the CDDH by the “Committee of experts on the reform of the Court” (DH-GDR), which in 2012 became of plenary composition.