Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights

Interlaken (Switzerland), 18-19 February 2010

The future of the European Court of Human Rights was centre stage when human rights ministers from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe gathered on 18 and 19 February at the Casino Kursaal in Interlaken.

The aim of the conference, which was organised by the Swiss Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, was to reaffirm member states’ commitment to protecting human rights in Europe, and their determination to enable the European Court of Human Rights, which is a vital cog in the protection mechanism, to cope with the growing volume of applications.

The Court currently faces a desperate situation. There are more than 100 000 outstanding cases. Ninety percent of the applications to the Court are clearly inadmissible or have no legal basis, which reveals a serious ignorance of the Convention and the Court's procedures. It also shows that the Convention system needs to be revitalised by a more rigorous application of the subsidiarity principle, and to be enforced in domestic courts.

The Interlaken conference set out to answer some of these important questions on the Court's future.