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2020 Vision for the European Court of Human Rights [WP1139]

In association with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Justice, London


Discussions at two recent high level meetings on reform of the European Court of Human Rights, in Interlaken (February 2010) and in Izmir (April 2011), highlighted the need for long-term strategic reflections. As part of the UK Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and to contribute to this process, we hosted an informal brainstorming conference. Our goal was to explore how the promotion and protection of human rights under the Convention’s system can be developed and improved in the long-term; and to help shape a vision for the kind of Court that will be needed by 2020.

As a result, representatives of Council of Europe member states met with judges and officials of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, national parliamentarians and judges, and legal experts from civil society to look beyond the immediate problems facing the European Court of Human Rights and begin to develop ideas for the Court’s long-term future.

Key issues discussed:

  • challenges currently facing the Convention system, including the Court’s workload and the backlog of pending applications, systemic violations and the role of the Court, the resources available to the Court, the relationship of the Court to national parliaments and national legal systems, public perceptions of the Court and the need for greater political will on the part of governments to secure the rights and freedoms of the Convention;
  • ways of addressing the present and likely future demands made on the Court, including building on the reforms introduced in recent years, strengthening national implementation of the Convention, in particular the execution of judgments, and how best to drive forward the urgent need for reform, reaching a balance between incoming cases and judgments, on a manageable level, and lower than that of today, in a reasonable time without weakening the human rights protection the Convention affords.

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