4 November 2020

130th Session of the Committee of Ministers
(Videoconference, Athens, 4 November 2020)


4. Securing the long-term effectiveness of the system of the European Convention on Human Rights



The Committee of Ministers,

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”), underlining the extraordinary contribution of the Convention system to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in Europe, and to the implementation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as well as its central role in maintaining and fostering democratic stability across the Continent;

Reiterating its firm and enduring commitment to the Convention system;

Reaffirming the fundamental importance of the right of individual application to the European Court of Human Rights (the “Court”) as a cornerstone of the Convention system and the responsibility of the respondent States to resolve the systemic and structural human rights problems identified by the Court in its judgments;

Emphasising the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, and the related doctrine of the margin of appreciation, for the implementation of the Convention at national level, and of the concept of shared responsibility between the States Parties, the Court and the Committee of Ministers to ensure the proper functioning of the Convention system;

Welcoming the work undertaken by the States Parties within the Council of Europe in the Interlaken Process, which has significantly contributed to timely and tangible developments in the Convention system;

Welcoming also the effective measures adopted in this decade of reform steered by the Committee of Ministers, particularly the Court’s efforts which include the latter’s use of the pilot-judgment procedure, efficient filtering of applications and accelerated adjudication of repetitive cases based on well-established case law;

Underlining the importance of the dialogue between the Court and national courts, including through the Superior Courts Network, aimed at ensuring an exchange of information on Convention case law as a means of developing an enhanced understanding of their respective roles in carrying out their shared responsibility for applying the Convention;

Recalling further the measures adopted by the Committee of Ministers, in particular the new procedures increasing effectiveness and transparency of its supervision of the execution of the Court’s judgments;

Underlining that the highest degree of consistency and clarity of the Court’s judgments contributes to the effective and rapid implementation of the Convention by the States Parties;

Emphasising also the importance of national human rights institutions, Ombudsman institutions, equality bodies and other human rights structures in the implementation of the Convention, and the valuable contribution of civil society organisations to the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Convention;

Resolved to ensure the continued effectiveness of the Convention system:

1.         agreed that, whilst no comprehensive reform of the Convention machinery is now needed, further efforts should be pursued by the Council of Europe as a whole to ensure that the Convention system can continue to respond effectively to the numerous human rights challenges Europe faces, including through the efficient response of the Court to pending applications;

2.         called upon all States Parties to give full effect to the principle of subsidiarity by complying with their obligations to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention, to abide by the judgments of the Court rendered against them, to ensure the promotion and effective implementation of the Convention, and to translate and disseminate the Court’s case law at national level;

3.         noting that Protocol No. 15 was opened for signature over seven years ago, urged the State Party which has not yet done so to ratify it;

4.         invited the States Parties to consider signing and ratifying Protocol No. 16 to the Convention with a view to further enhancing the interaction between the Court and national courts, thereby reinforcing implementation of the Convention, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity;

5.         invited its Deputies to consider the legal and practical aspects of the Court’s proposal to supervise States’ compliance with their obligations pursuant to unilateral declarations;

6.         in the interests of the effectiveness and credibility of the Convention system, called upon all Convention actors to continue to guarantee the highest standard of qualifications, independence and impartiality of the Court’s judges; agreed to consider further means to ensure due recognition for judges’ status and service on the Court and providing additional safeguards to preserve their independence, including after the end of their terms; and invited the Deputies to evaluate again by the end of 2024, in light of further experience, the effectiveness of the current system for the selection and election of the Court’s judges;

7.         emphasised the importance of allocating sufficient resources to the Court so it may accelerate the handling of pending cases;

8.         urged all member States to ensure that the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)2 on efficient domestic capacity for rapid execution of the European Court’s judgments is given full effect;

9.         agreed to continue to enhance the efficiency of the process of supervision of execution of the Court’s judgments, particularly its Human Rights meetings, by further developing its working methods and means available, including by appropriate recourse to political leverage to deal with cases of non-execution or persistent refusal to execute the Court’s judgments, and agreed on the importance of sufficient resources for the Department for the Execution of Judgments;

10.       encouraged the development in this context of enhanced synergy with the Court as well as with the other relevant Council of Europe stakeholders, in particular with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Commissioner for Human Rights;

11.       equally emphasised the importance of maximising the potential of the Council of Europe to support States Parties in the execution process and in the implementation of the Convention at national level, including through co-operation projects such as the HELP Programme (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals), and by developing synergies with the knowledge sharing platform developed by the Court, in order to facilitate Convention-compliant adjudication by national courts;

12.       encouraged States Parties which have not already done so to consider the establishment or strengthening of effective, pluralist and independent national human rights institutions;

13.       welcomed the contributions made by States Parties to the special account set up by the Secretary General to allow the Court to deal with the backlog of all well-founded cases, and to the Human Rights Trust Fund, whilst encouraging further contributions;

14.       underlined the benefit of the continued practice of secondments of national judges and high-level lawyers to the Court’s Registry and encouraged States Parties to pursue their efforts in this respect; and encouraged them also to consider the secondment of national judges or officials to the Department for the Execution of Judgments;

15.       welcomed the resumption of the negotiations on the accession of the European Union to the Convention;

16.       invited its Deputies to evaluate the first effects of Protocols No. 15 and No. 16 after five years from their respective entry into force, and reiterated the importance of the ongoing intergovernmental work on national implementation of the Convention, with a view to assessing the developments at the Ministerial Session in May 2021.