The European Convention on Human Rights

European Convention on Human Rights

A convention to protect your rights and freedoms

The European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1950 and came into force three years later, is a unique reflection of the values of civilisation and democracy. It gives practical form to certain of the rights and freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provides a list of guaranteed rights such as the right to life, the prohibition of torture, slavery and forced labour, the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial, respect for private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, the right to marry, the right to an effective remedy and the prohibition of discrimination.

Over half a century, the rights enshrined in the Convention have gradually evolved, thanks to the way the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted it – its so-called case-law – and to various protocols that have established new rights relating to circumstances that could not have been anticipated when it was first adopted.

The importance of the Convention lies not just in the rights it protects but also in the supervisory system set up to consider alleged violations and ensure that states abide by their treaty obligations. This requires them to grant these rights and freedoms to anyone within their jurisdiction, and not just their own nationals.

The Court's judgments are binding on the parties to each case, who are required to take all necessary measures to comply with them. Under Article 54 of the Convention, the Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of Court judgments. Finally, Article 52 authorises the Secretary General to request parties to explain how their internal law ensures the application of the Convention.

First European Human Rights Moot Court Competition in English

Students from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) were declared winners of the first edition of the European Moot Court Competition in English on the European Convention of Human Rights, after beating a team from Essex University (United Kingdom) in the final round. The best orator prize was awarded to Joanna Kisielinska from Torun University (Poland) and the best written submissions prize to the team from Trinity College Dublin.

The final round took place at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 27 February 2013 and its jury, made up of prominent figures, including judges of the Court and academics, was chaired by Ms Nina Vajic, former Judge and President of Section at the European Court of Human Rights. (more...)

Accession of the European Union to the Convention

The accession of the European Union (EU) to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) constitutes a major step in the development of human rights in Europe. Discussed since the late 1970s, the accession became a legal obligation under the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009 (see its Article 6, paragraph 2). The legal basis for the accession of the EU is provided for by Article 59, paragraph 2 ECHR (“the European Union may accede to this Convention”), as amended by Protocol No. 14 to the ECHR which entered into force on 1 June 2010. (more...)

Did you know that...

... signing and ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights is a precondition for countries to become members of the Council of Europe?

Web Content Display

4 November 2010: The European Convention on Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary

60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights

The year 2010 was an opportunity to remind ourselves that the system established by the Council of Europe 60 years ago has improved the lives of millions of Europeans by bringing about a fundamental change in how they perceive their rights to life, liberty, security, a fair trial, family life and freedom of conscience, religion and expression.

Test your skills