Thursday 25 February 2021

New Reports and Guides on Case-Law

A number of guides and reports on its case-law, have been published by the Court on its website. They include the following, partly entirely new, partly recently updated versions of existing documents:

All case-law guides can be found on the Court's website here.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

ECHR Facts and Figures 1959-2020

The Public Relations Unit of the European Court of Human Rights has published an ‘Overview 1959-2020’ containing important statistics regarding the work of the Court (and the European Commission of Human Rights) since its inception.

The Court has so far decided on the examination of around one million applications. However, only around 50.000 of them were delivered in a form of a judgment. The rest were either declared inadmissible or were struck out. Around 40% of the Court judgments concerned only three member States, namely Turkey, Russia, and Italy.

The most violated human right has been the right to a fair trial. Almost 40% of all violations found by the Court concerned Article 6. Nearly 30% of other violations concerned the right to liberty and security, prohibition of torture and the right to life.

The Overview 1959-2020 provides a brief history of the reform of the Court and other facts and figures regarding the work of the Court.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

ECtHR Implementation Trainings

As announced earlier, the European Implementation Network (EIN) is organising a number of country-specific training sessions on the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The first upcoming one focuses on Moldova and take place on 25 and 26 February. The first session will be on the implementation process of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and aims to provide civil society organizations with an overview of the implementation process in Strasbourg and the mandate of the Council of Europe of the Committee of Ministers.

The second session will focus on the non-implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Moldova and will address how civil society organizations can become more engaged with the ECtHR implementation process at the national level. This training will also include breakout sessions, which will enable participants to get a further practical insight into the procedure which allows them to contribute to the implementation process, through “Rule 9” submissions to the Committee of Ministers.

For more information and free registration, see here.

Please note: The earlier notified training on Russia now has a prolonged deadline to apply (21 February). The actual sessions will take place on 13, 15 and 16 April in the afternoon. More information can be found here.

Both are free of charge and thus hopefully easily accessible to civil society organisations and human rights defenders.

Thursday 4 February 2021

ECHR Massive Open Online Course Starts Again on 10 February

With ongoing lockdowns in much of the world due to the pandemic and much teaching still continuing online, our free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the ECHR is starting again on Wednesday 10 Februari 2021. Registration is open now! To enroll, please go to the Coursera platform.

The MOOC entitled 'Human Rights for Open Societies - An introduction into the ECHR' is taught by myself (Antoine Buyse) and my Utrecht University colleagues professor Janneke Gerards and Claire Loven. This is the abstract of our six-week course:

'Human rights are under pressure in many places across the globe. Peaceful protests are violently quashed. Voting is tampered with. And minorities are often excluded from decision-making. All of this threatens the ideal of an open society in which each of us can be free and participate equally. A solid protection of human rights is needed for an open society to exist and to flourish. But it is often an uphill battle to work towards that ideal. Equip yourself and learn more about what human rights are and how they work. 

In this course, we will introduce you to one of the world’s most intricate human rights systems: the European Convention on Human Rights. You will see when and how people can turn to the European Court of Human Rights to complain about human rights violations. You will learn how the Court tries to solve many of the difficult human rights dilemmas of today. We will look, amongst other things, at the freedom of expression and demonstration, the right to vote, and the prohibition of discrimination. And we will address the rights of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups. And, of course, we will see whether it is possible to restrict rights and if so under what conditions. You will even encounter watchdogs and ice cream in this course. We invite you to follow us on a journey of discovery into the European Convention!'

Please watch this short introduction video to get an impression.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Strasbourg Court Publishes the 2020 Annual Report

On 28 January 2021, the European Court of Human Rights published its 2020 annual report. The report provides an overview of the work of the Court and statistics regarding the incoming processed and pending applications. It also contains information regarding the Court's public outreach activities, publications, and trainings.

In comparison to 2019, the Court issued around 1500 fewer decisions and judgments (see page 155). At the same time, it issued more interim measures and received more requests for advisory opinions. In connection with the backlog, the Court notes that it has

recently adopted a new strategy for more targeted and effective case-processing in order to ensure that both priority and “impact” cases (i.e. non-priority Chamber cases which address core issues of  relevance for the State in question and/or for the Convention system generally) are processed and adjudicated more expeditiously. This strategy is aimed at enhancing the Court’s immediate impact and relevance for the applicants and in the member States and its ability to address core legal issues of relevance for the Convention system as a whole”.
The report does not further explain what this ‘new strategy’ is. It remains to be seen what specific changes will take place for the ‘new strategy’ to work. 
According to the annual report, the most violated human rights in 2020 were the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and security, and the prohibition of torture (see page 159). Statistics show that after 70 years of the adoption of the ECHR, the protection of basic human rights in Europe still remains an ideal and a work in progress. The chart below shows that some States struggle more than others in the realisation of human rights. For illustration, Romania alone has the same number of pending applications as 37 States Parties to the ECHR put all together. The number of applications pending against Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Italy is a matter of serious concern.

Lastly, 2020 was an unusual year, and as President Spano notes in the report, the pandemic Covid-19 “has not spared the European Court of Human Rights”. The report indicates the Court's response to the first wave of the pandemic in spring last year. In March and April 2020, the Court suspended the six-month time-limit for lodging an application. This happened for the first time in the history of the Convention system. Working from home and holding of Grand Chamber hearings by video-conference became a new normal for the Court. Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, the report suggests that the Court has "managed to adapt to the dramatic circumstances".

Monday 1 February 2021

ESIL Webinar on ECHR and International Law

The Interest Group on International Courts and Tribunals of the European Society of International Law is organising an online webinar on ‘The Influence, Legacy and Future of the European Court of Human Rights in the International Legal Order’. The webinar will be held on 8 June 2021.
Here is the call for papers prepared by the organisers: 
“This year the European Convention of Human Rights celebrates 70 years since its adoption. The European Court of Human Rights – the body responsible for enforcing the Convention across 47 Member States of the Council of Europe – is regarded as one of the most successful and impactful international courts. The Court has played a major role in interpreting and clarifying the text of the Convention and in positioning the Convention in the domestic legal orders of Member States. Yet, the Court’s case-law has also importantly influenced other regional and international courts and tribunals, specifically the interpretation of international criminal law, humanitarian law, the law of immunity, migration and refugee law as well as opened up challenges posed by conflicting obligations arising from other international treaties. 
Against this background, an online webinar will explore the influence, legacy and future of the European Court of Human Rights in the wider international legal order. The Interest Group welcomes papers addressing topics including but not limited to:
  • the influence of the ECtHR on the jurisprudence of other international courts and tribunals (including by creating potential conflicts between the Convention and other branches of international law);
  • the place of the ECtHR in relation to other international and regional courts/tribunals, including the Court of Justice of the European Union;
  • the influence of the ECtHR on domestic courts outside the Council of Europe;
  • the future of the ECtHR in the international legal order.

Members of the Interest Group are invited to submit abstracts of up to 500 words by emailing them to The deadline for submitting abstracts is February 21, 2021.”