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Human Rights Protection

Human Rights Bodies on the Web

In addition to the Council of Europe, the European Union makes the protection of human rights a high-profile issue.  There are many organizations with useful websites for research:

Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The heart of the European System of human rights protection is the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted in 1950 under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

Note that the Council of Europe is a different international organization from the European Union. It is true that fundamental rights are essential to European Union law (see below), but in the field of human rights in Europe the Council of Europe plays the leading role.

The Convention is usually called the European Convention on Human Rights. It is the first international human rights instrument in the form of a legally binding treaty. All 47 states that are members of the Council of Europe are also parties to the Convention. All states of Europe, including Russia and Turkey, are covered.

A useful subject heading for use in library catalogs is:

Some useful reference sources are:

European Court of Human Rights

The Convention creates the European Court of Human Rights, which sits in Strasbourg, France. All states party to the Convention must accept the jurisdiction of the Court to decide cases involving individual complaints.

Judgments of the Court are published selectively in its official reports. From 1996 these are titled simply Reports of Judgments and Decisions (available at KJC 5138 A5 E97). Until 1996 the title was Publications of the European Court of Human Rights, Series A: Judgements and Decisions JX 1980 Eu4. There is an unofficial commercial set of reports titled European Human Rights Reports, KJC 5132 A13 E97. At one time there was a Series B: Pleadings, Oral Arguments and Documents, JX 1980 Eu4 C503, which ceased publication in 1995.

Until 1998 there was a subsidiary body called the European Commission on Human Rights. It performed a screening function that the Court itself now carries out. Selected decisions of the Commission were published in a series titled Decisions and Reports JX1980 Eu4 D4.

Today, research on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights should begin with its website, and specifically, with the database of the Court's judgments, called HuDoc. HuDoc is a comprehensive database of the Court's case law, including recent judgments that are available nowhere else. Full-text searching is possible, as are searching by the name of the applicant, name of the respondent state, application number, and relevant article of the Convention.

Human Rights Treaties on the Web

The European Convention on Human Rights by no means exhausts the human rights work of the Council of Europe. There is a set of other human rights treaties and bodies. There is space here only to name some of them with links to the Web.

Selected Secondary Sources

The secondary literature on the Convention and the Court is extensive. Recommended recent texts are: