Monday 25 March 2013

Another Hurdle Taken for Protocol 15

Last week, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) agreed that Draft Protocol 15, which aims to reform several aspects of the Convention system, could be adopted without amendment. It did so on the basis of a report by rapporteur Christoper Chope from the United Kingdom. This means that another hurdle on the way to adoption of the new Protocol has been taken. The plenary of PACE is now likely to adopt the Draft Protocol during its April session. As the entry into force of the previosu Reform Protocol took so many years, the Committee urges all state parties to ratify as soon as possible once the Protocol is adopted for signature and ratification, emphasizing that "the proposed changes to the text are principally of a technical and uncontroversial nature". After all the very controversial discussions in the past few years out of which this compromise on this Protocol arose, it may be slightly surprising to phrase it that way.

The rapporteur notes, in passing, that it is his understanding that the Brighton conference last year, after the earlier Interlaken and Izmir ones, was the last annual one. More rest on that front thus - it is now time for elaboration and implementation rather than new political plan-making. Tellingly, he notes on the discussions of the past few years "Stressing the need to reform - and criticising - the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) tends to mislead the public by suggesting that reform of the Court alone is needed."

The Report includes as an annex the Opinion of the European Court of Human Rights on Protocol 15 of 6 February 2013 which I had not seen earlier in the public domain. It is also available on the Court's site here. The opinion notes that three of the five changes included in the Protocol were suggested in the run-up to the Brighton Conference by the Court itself. The tone of the Opinion is generally positive, with a more critical stance on the specific wording of the inclusion of the margin of appreciation in the Convention's preamble.

More news on the reform process can be found here.