Simplified version of selected articles1
Summary of the preamble
The member governments of the Council of Europe work towards peace and greater unity based on human rights and fundamental freedoms. With this Convention they decide to take the first steps to enforce many of the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 1 - Obligation to respect human rights
States must ensure that everyone has the rights stated in this Convention.
Article 2 - Right to life
You have the right to life.
Article 3 - Prohibition of torture
No one ever has the right to hurt you or torture you. Even in detention your human dignity has to be respected.
Article 4 - Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
It is prohibited to treat you as a slave or to impose forced labour on you.
Article 5 - Right to liberty and security
You have the right to liberty. If you are arrested you have the right to know why. If you are arrested you have the right to stand trial soon, or to be released until the trial takes place.
Article 6 - Right to a fair trial
You have the right to a fair trial before an unbiased and independent judge. If you are accused of having committed a crime, you are innocent until proved guilty. You have the right to be assisted by a lawyer who has to be paid by the state if you are poor.
Article 7 - No punishment without law
You cannot be held guilty of a crime if there was no law against it when you did it.
Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life
You have the right to respect for your private and family life, your home and correspondence.
Article 9 - Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
You have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. You have the right to practise your religion at home and in public and to change your religion if you want.
Article 10 - Freedom of expression
You have the right to responsibly say and write what you think and to give and receive information from others. This includes freedom of the press.
Article 11 - Freedom of assembly and association
You have the right to take part in peaceful meetings and to set up or join associations including trade unions.
Article 12 - Right to marry
You have the right to marry and to have a family.
Article 13 - Right to an effective remedy
If your rights are violated, you can complain about this officially to the courts or other public bodies.
Article 14 - Prohibition of discrimination
You have these rights regardless of your skin colour, sex, language, political or religious beliefs, or origins.
Article 15 - Derogation in time of emergency
In time of war or other public emergency, a government may do things which go against your rights, but only when strictly necessary. Even then, governments are not allowed, for example, to torture you or to kill you arbitrarily.
Article 16 - Restrictions on political activity of aliens
Governments may restrict the political activity of foreigners, even if this would be in conflict with Articles 10, 11 or 14.
Article 17 - Prohibition of abuse of rights
Nothing in this Convention can be used to damage the rights and freedoms in the Convention.
Article 18 - Limitation on use of restrictions of rights
Most of the rights in this Convention can be restricted by a general law which is applied to everyone. Such restrictions are only allowed if they are strictly necessary.
Articles 19 to 51
These articles explain how the European Court of Human Rights works.
Article 34 - Individual applications
If your rights contained in the Convention have been violated in one of the member states you should first appeal to all competent national authorities. If that does not work out for you, then you may appeal directly to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Article 52 - Inquiries by the Secretary General
If the Secretary General of the Council of Europe requests it, a government must explain how its national law protects the rights of this Convention.
Protocols to the Convention
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 - Protection of property
You have the right to own property and use your possessions.
Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 - Right to education
You have the right to go to school.
Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 - Right to free elections
You have the right to elect the government of your country by secret vote.
Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 - Freedom of movement
If you are lawfully within a country, you have the right to go where you want and to live where you want within it.
Article 1 of Protocol No. 6 - Abolition of the death penalty
You cannot be condemned to death or executed by the state.
Article 2 of Protocol No. 7 - Right of appeal in criminal matters
You may appeal to a higher court if you have been convicted for committing a crime.
Article 3 of Protocol No. 7 - Compensation for wrongful conviction
You have the right to compensation if you have been convicted for committing a crime and it turns out that you were innocent.
Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 - General prohibition of discrimination
You cannot be discriminated against by public authorities for reasons of, for example, your skin colour, sex, language, political or religious beliefs, or origins.
1 This simplified version was prepared by the Directorate of Communication of the Council of Europe for educational purposes only. The only texts which have a legal basis are to be found in the official published versions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its protocols.
- Chapter 1 - Human Rights Education and Compass: an introduction
- Chapter 2 - Practical Activities and Methods for Human Rights Education
- Chapter 3 - Taking Action for Human Rights
- Chapter 4 - Understanding Human Rights
- Chapter 5 - Background Information on Global Human Rights Themes