Thursday 22 April 2021

Protocol 15 Ratified by all Contracting Parties to the ECHR

As of 21 April 2021, all Contracting Parties to the ECHR have ratified Protocol 15. It will enter into force on 1 August 2021. The Protocol was adopted in 2013, so it took eight years for all States to ratify it. Italy was the last State to complete the ratification process of the new protocol.

Protocol 15 introduces important changes to the Convention system. These changes, in brief

add a reference to the principle of subsidiarity and the doctrine of the margin of appreciation to the Preamble of the Convention;

shorten from six to four months the time limit within which an application must be made to the Court;

amend the ‘significant disadvantage’ admissibility criterion to remove the second safeguard preventing rejection of an application that has not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal;

remove the right of the parties to a case to object to relinquishment of jurisdiction over it by a Chamber in favour of the Grand Chamber; and

replace the upper age limit for judges by a requirement that candidates for the post of judge be less than 65 years of age at the date by which the list of candidates has been requested by the Parliamentary Assembly.

The Explanatory Report and the Opinion of the Court on Protocol 15 can be found here and here.

Protocol 15 is seen as part of the reform of the Court. Reform, however, means changing things for good. A question remains who benefits from these changes. While the Court’s efficacy may be enhanced through the new institutional and procedural changes brought by the new protocol, and States may feel more ensured with the new reference to subsidiarity and margin of appreciation, one may argue that victims of human rights violations are the least direct beneficiaries of this change taking into account that, among others, it further limits their time to lodge a complaint before the Court.