Sunday, 15 August 2010

Council of Europe and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

This is an introductory post for those who need basic information about the Council of Europe, which is separate from the European Union.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are the hallmarks of the pan-European Council of Europe (CoE; Wikipedia). The Council of Europe has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens.

The CoE houses the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR; Wikipedia), which pronounces on alleged human rights violations by member states.

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) can be described as the mother of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which became legally binding when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009 (latest publication in the Official Journal of the European Union OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83/389).

Somewhat asymmetrically, we can call the first European Convention (1999-2000; Wikipedia) the father of the EU Charter, which integrates the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the Member States, the Social Charters adopted by the Union and by the Council of Europe and the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and of the European Court of Human Rights, with the ECHR.

The ECHR is also the mother of the provisions on human rights and fundamental freedoms in 47 national legal orders, but here we leave the questions of paternity without further comment.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. The Grahnlaw blog invites comments relevant to the topics discussed, but the number and the variety of spam comments seems to be increasing steadily. This is the sad reason for comment moderation, so it may take a while before your pertinent comment appears.

It is easier to understand a language than to use it correctly. As Eurobloggers we could and should promote interaction among Europeans across borders and between linguistic communities. Grahnlaw has adopted a multilingual comment policy:

I do my best to read comments in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish, even if the Grahnlaw blog and my possible replies are in English.