Monday 17 January 2011

New Book on History of European Court of Human Rights

Before I specialised in human rights law, I studied history. I was therefore especially happy to see the recent publication of the book 'The Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights. From Its Inception to the Creation of a Permanent Court of Human Rights' with OUP. It was written by Ed Bates of the University of Southampton, who is also one of the co-authors of last year's new edition of Harris, Warbrick and O'Boyle's classic book on the ECHR. The new book is a systematic historical account of the inception and development of the Court, from its beginnings over half a century ago, through its landmark case-law in the 1970s, to the establishment of the permanent Court. This is the book's abstract:

On 4 November 2010 the European Convention on Human Rights celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. It has undergone a spectacular evolution since its creation in 1950. In recent times the European Court of Human Rights has been compared to a quasi-constitutional court for Europe in the field of human rights, and for some time the Convention has been viewed as a European Bill of Rights. The 'coming of age' of the ECHR system in the late 1990s was marked by the entry into force of Protocol 11, creating a new, full time Court.

By contrast those who first proposed a European human rights guarantee were driven by an ambition to put in place a collective pact to prevent the re-emergence of totalitarianism in 'free' Europe. They were motivated by grisly memories of human rights abuse associated with World War Two, and the protection of 'human rights' was seen in that light. When the Convention was opened for signature in 1950 it was viewed by many with scepticism and disappointment. The Convention system took many years to get established. In the mid-1960s doubts were expressed as to whether the Court had a future and in the 1970s the Convention system of control faced a number of serious challenges.

This book mainly focuses on the story of the evolution of the Convention during its first fifty years (up to 1998), although there is also a final chapter on the post-1998 situation. It reflects on the Convention's origins and charts the slow progress that it made over the 1950s and 1960s, before, in the late 1970s, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a series of landmark judgments which proved to be the foundation stones for the European Bill of Rights that we know today.
And this is the table of contents:

Table of Cases
Tables of Legislation, Treaties, and Conventions
1: The Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
2: The Beginning of Modern International Human Rights Law (Background to the Birth of the European Convention)
3: Proposals for a Convention to Safeguard Europe from Tyranny and Oppression?
4: The Drafting of the Convention by the Governments of the Council of Europe (February - November 1950)
5: The Convention of 1950 and Key Features of its Subsequent Evolution
6: An Overview of the Conventions Evolution from the 1950s to the Early 1970s
7: The Conventions Evolution 1973 - 1976: The Awakening of the 'Sleeping Beauty'
8: The Strasbourg Court 'Comes of Age'(The Judgements of the Late 1970s)
9: Reflecting on the Conventions Evolution (From a Safeguard against Totalitarianism to Europes Bill of Rights)
10: The Evolution of the Convention System through to 1990
11: The Conventions 'Coming of Age'(The 1990s and Protocol 11)
IV.'AFTER 1998'
12: After 1998: The Challenges Facing the 'New' European Court of Human Rights
Enjoy reading!