The European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human RightsThe European Court of Human Rights was established in Strasbourg in 1959 as an institution for protecting the fundamental rights enshrined in the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. The importance of the Convention, which came into force in 1953, derives not just from the range of rights it protects but also from the supervisory system it established to examine alleged violations and ensure that governments comply with their obligations under the Convention.

Since its establishment, the Court has handed down more than 10 000 judgments, which are binding on states found to be in violation and have required governments to amend their legislation or administrative practices in numerous areas. Each year it receives more than 30 000 new applications. Over the years it has had to rule on very serious human rights violations, on subjects that go to the very heart of the rule of law and on numerous social issues such as abortion, assisted suicide, strip-searching, domestic slavery, the right of persons whose birth has been registered anonymously to trace their origins, Islamic headscarves in schools, protection of journalists’ sources and discrimination against minorities.

In the space of half a century, the Court's case-law has turned the European Convention on Human Rights into a powerful and dynamic instrument capable of dealing with new challenges and of strengthening the rule of law and democracy in Europe.

A new President for the Court

The new President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza, took up his duties on 4 November 2011.

He replaces Jean-Paul Costa, who has been the Court’s President since January 2007.

Sir Nicolas is the third British President in the history of the Court.

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Launch of the Court’s anniversary book

Court's anniversary book

The book ''The Conscience of Europe: 50 Years of the European Court of Human Rights'' was launched in English and French at the opening of its judicial year on 28 January 2011. The book, designed to mark the Court’s fiftieth anniversary in 2009 and the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights on 4 November 2010, groups a variety of individual contributions around a skeleton retracing the main events over the last half-century.


20 April 2009: Fiftieth anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights

The fiftieth anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights is being celebrated throughout 2009 with a series of initiatives, including the launch of a special event-oriented website that will be enhanced and up-dated in the course of the year. The website is being launched because it was exactly 50 years ago, on 20 April 1959, that the Court was inaugurated, on the tenth anniversary of the Council of Europe.