Last week, the High Level Conference meeting under the Danish Chairpersonship of the Committee of Ministers took place in Copenhagen (12-13 April). The final text of the Copenhagen Declaration was adopted at that occasion. As readers of this blog will know, this was done after lots of diplomatic wrangling as well as online academic and expert debate. see the earlier comments series on the ECHR Blog.
My initial thoughts are that the Declaration truly reads as a political compromise. Most of the much-criticised parts of earlier drafts have been left out in the end. The results is a smoothened text, with the hard edges polished away and not much new to show. Rather it reads as a summary of well-known developments and very general statements of the last few years. In a way, this very much echoes the earlier trajectory that led to the Brighton Declaration a few years ago. In that latter case, the United Kingdom, like Denmark currently, started out with a very critical agenda towards the Court and it was very much through external pressure of civil society and diplomatic efforts of other ECHR state parties that the final text also presented much less news than originally anticipated. One can only hope that these types of so obviously domestically-driven charges (e.g. concerns about migration cases) at the Court and subsequently mitigated by other key actors will not be the way ahead for the future. Although it does bring out various key discussion points and concerns, much effort gets put into wrangling about diplomatic texts rather than focusing on truly improved implementation at the national level - an aim virtually all high-level declarations in this context claim to strive for.
For initial commentaries, see also Ed Bates on UKStrabourgspotlight and Geir Ulfstein and Andreas Follesdal on EJILTalk! The ECHR Blog will publish a more extensive guest comment later on this week.