On the occasion of the handover of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from Norway to Poland, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has organised a "Treaty event" for signature and ratification of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), with a view to encouraging its ratification and accelerating its entry into force. Today, ten countries signed and four ratified it (*) - an extremely positive sign that the ratification process is now well under way.
This means that as of today 35 Council of Europe member states have signed the Protocol, five of them having also ratified it. Protocol No. 14 to the ECHR (CETS No. 194), which amends the control system of the Convention, was adopted and opened for signature at the Committee of Ministers' May Session in Strasbourg.
"It is totally unacceptable that people have to wait up to five years or more to have their cases heard and justice served, and the need for urgent action to remedy the situation is clear today as never before. A speedy entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention is a very important step forward," said Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis during the "Treaty event".
"Protocol No.14 contains quite a number of valuable elements which, beyond the short-term significance of some of them as instruments designed to help reduce the Court's backlog, also represent real progress in adapting the system to the changing European society, thus bringing it to maturity", said European Court of Human Rights President Luzius Wildhaber. "Besides the single-judge formation, the extended competence of the Committees of three judges, the joint examination of admissibility and merits of applications and the "significant disadvantage" as new admissibility criterion, which are in the first place meant to help streamline the Strasbourg procedure, innovations like the judges" single term of office, the new role for the Commissioner for Human Rights or the action for failure to fulfil obligations are major steps towards an increased transparency and credibility of the whole Strasbourg system."
"Over the years the Court has done a remarkable job in affirming the rule of law and enhancing the international human rights standards. Because of its authority the value of its decisions and opinions extends beyond Europe making it a body of truly universal significance. The Protocol aims also at increasing the effectiveness of the judgements of the Court," said Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
Kim Traavik, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, emphasised that: "the member states of the Council of Europe have realised that the European system of human rights is facing serious challenges. The implementation of the reform package adopted by the ministers in May is a matter of urgency. This event forms a worthy conclusion of the Norwegian chairmanship, which started when the reform package was adopted".
For further information, please see our special file: http://www.coe.int/ECHR-reform.
(*) Today, Protocol No. 14 was signed by Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Lithuania, Moldova, Monaco, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro and Ukraine, and ratified by Denmark, Georgia, Ireland and Norway.