Sunday, December 05, 2010

What's The European Convention On Human Rights?

It was briefly mentioned in a post I wrote about a trans marriage win in Malta, so my TransGriot readers who don't live in a European nation that's a signatory to it are probably wondering what's the European Convention On Human Rights? 

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has the formal name of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. 

It is an international treaty 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe and was designed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe.

The ECHR established the European Court of Human Rights and came into force on  September 3, 1953.    All Council of Europe members are parties to the treaty and any new nations that join the Council are  expected to do so as expeditiously as possible.

The ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights led to the establishment of the world's first regional human rights enforcement body- the European Court of Human Rights..

It us referred to informally in Europe as the 'Strasbourg Court' because of its physical location in Strasbourg, France.  

The court is comprised of the same number of judges equal to the number of Council of Europe member states, which currently stands at 47 members.
The Court's mission is to enforce the Convention. Any person in a Council of Europe signatory state who feels their rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party can take a case to the Court.   The decisions of the Court are legally binding, and the Court has the power to award monetary damages.

It was this court that Caroline Cossey took her legal gender recognition issues with the British Government to and had mixed success.   State Parties can also take cases against other State Parties to the Court, although this power is rarely used. 

As for the treaty itself,  the ECHR is comprised of 18 Articles covering the basic rights and 15 Protocols that either were tweaks to the operation of the of the ECHR or add additional rights and freedoms.

The ECHR is not only a regional approach to guaranteeing the civil rights people across the region, the Court has generated case law that as we saw in the Malta case, can make positive impacts on the civil rights and the lives of people in Europe.

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