High-Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights

Organised by the United Kingdom in the context of its Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights took place in Brighton, UK, on 19-20 April 2012. The Conference aimed to achieve agreement on a political declaration on a package of reforms of the Court, between Ministers of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe. 

At previous High-Level conferences held in Interlaken (2010) and Izmir (2011), the member States of the Council of Europe, while recognising the extraordinary contribution of the Court to the protection of human rights in Europe, agreed unanimously that reform of the Court is needed in order to ensure the continuing effectiveness of the Convention system. The aim of the Brighton Conference was to agree on a package of concrete reforms to ensure that the Court can be most effective for all 800 million citizens of Council of Europe member States. This was the message delivered by British Prime Minister David Cameron in his recent visit to Strasbourg.

Parliamentary Assembly President Jean-Claude Mignon and Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland took part at the conference. In opening the event Mr Jagland noted that reform “has strengthened the role and authority of the European Court of Human Rights,” and States now need to step up to the challenges of improving implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights at national level, making sure they act quickly and effectively on the Court’s judgments so as to both meet their obligations and cut the Court’s backlog by putting a stop to repetitive applications.

“Effective human rights protection starts at home. The meaning of the Court was never to take over responsibility of the national courts,” said Mr Jagland. “Member states have themselves freely chosen to submit to an international judicial control mechanism, because they are deeply convinced that this is a vital safeguard for democracy, freedom and peace across our continent…. Basic human rights do not come from any majority or any authority. They come from the fact that we are all human beings and that every nation has an obligation to uphold these rights by law.” The full text of Mr Jagland’s address is available here.

Comment by Sir Nicholas Bratza, President of the Court here.

Remarks of M Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly here.

The result of the Conference was the Brighton Declaration, reprinted in full here.