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Bled discussion on reforming the European Court of Human Rights

The purpose of the Bled discussion on the short-term reform of the European Court of Human Rights that took place on 22 September during the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was to contribute to efforts to improve the efficiency of the Court within the existing legal system, and at the same time make a contribution to the long-running debate on the necessity for long-term reform of the European Court of Human Rights.

The discussion – attended by more than 80 participants from Council of Europe member states – focused on possible practice developments regarding “class actions”, collective applications and repetitive applications, as well as new ideas and the short-term reform goals of the Court. Among other things, the Registrar of the ECHR, Erik Fribergh, presented new features of the Court’s activities arising from the Madrid Agreement and Protocol No. 14bis to the European Convention on Human Rights.

At present there are 113,850 applications awaiting resolution before the European Court of Human Rights, and a further 58,000 are expected this year, indicating an upward trend (15% up on last year). It was pointed out that one of the features of the European Convention on Human Rights is its balance; however, the balance between the national and international protection of human rights has been disturbed, since the ECHR cannot handle the burden it faces without relevant reforms. Consequently, the national component of the Convention regarding the principle of the subsidiarity of international protection of human rights must be amended.

The round table on the protection of the right to trial within a reasonable time and on the short-term reform of the European Court of Human Rights is co-organised by the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Council of Europe Secretariat and the European Court of Human Rights Secretariat, and is one of the most important events during the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The meeting is in preparation for the high-level conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights to be held next February in Interlaken, Switzerland.

The proceedings of the Bled discussions, with a summary and conclusions, will be published in a special volume by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.