On June 30, 2011 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had a grand total of 152,800 applications pending before it. By March 31, 2013 this number had been reduced by over 30,000 applications in one and a half year – to a total of 122,450 pending applications. This astonishing development proves that the recently implemented Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the restructuring of the ECtHR’s registry, is in fact working.
If the ECtHR can keep this pace up, simple mathematics implies that it will have cleaned out its docket by 2021. Or maybe even before that, considering the fact that the number of new applications is slowly decreasing. This suggests that any further attempts at increasing its efficiency or reduce its current caseload should be of a temporary nature, as the ECtHR would been able to cope well if its docket was not already flooded when reforms could finally be put in place.
The big question is, however, whether one can apply such simple mathematics. Protocol 14 aims mostly to squash and filter out the most glaringly inadmissible applications. Apparently, the registry of the ECtHR was reorganized with the same goal in mind. If the 30,000 applications thrown out in the last year and a half are mainly those that are clearly inadmissible, the numbers may be skewed. Throwing out clearly inadmissible cases requires much less resources than deciding admissible cases on the merits.
It therefore remains to be seen whether the simple mathematics stated in my rather provocative header are an accurate prediction of things to come. My gut feeling is that simple mathematics are inadequate. To find a more accurate answer I think that we need a study of the composition of inadmissible/admissible cases of those 30,000 removed from the docket the last year and a half. This must then be compared with the expected composition of admissible/inadmissible cases before the ECtHR in total.
(If anyone knows of such studies, or relevant and available data, please give me a heads up in the comments.)
As reported by news agencies just before the weekend, the European Union and the 47 member states of the Council of Europe has just agreed on draft legal instruments that enable the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights – after almost three years of negotiations. Antonie Buyse over at the ECHRblog has written a good and concise post on the topic already, which I recommend that anyone with an interest in the process should read.
While it was common knowledge that the negotiations were on the final stretch, at least I would not have expected that the final instruments would be ready before at least the next meeting of the delegations. That the delegations were able to solve all the outstanding issues this quickly must be seen as a positive sign, and suggests that the remaining obstacles will not render this agreement moot.
As Antonie Buyse mentioned in the above-mentioned post at ECHRblog, three main hurdles remain. First, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will be asked to give its opinion on whether the draft instruments are compatible with EU law. If the ECJ finds that the draft Accession Agreement is incompatible with EU law, it has the power under TFEU article 218 (11) to forbid the EU institutions and the EU member states from entering into the agreement. However, most experts consider it unlikely that the ECJ will reject the Accession Agreement.
Secondly, a formal decision to sign the instruments and accede to the ECHR must be made by the Council of the European Union, after obtaining consent from the European Parliament, see TFEU article 218 (6)(a)(ii). Since the Council consists of 27 of the states that participated in the drafting of the Accession Agreement, there seems to be little risk of them blocking a decision. The European Parliament is also generally in favor of acceding to the ECHR. It is thus difficult to see that they would try and block the process.
Thirdly, the signature and ratification by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe + the EU itself is needed before the Accession Agreement enters into force. 27 of these 47 states are EU members, and will be bound to sign and ratify the agreement upon the above-mentioned decision in the EU Council. The EU will also be bound to sign according to the same decision. As for the 20 remaining CoE states it will be more interesting to see whether they will cooperate, whether they intend to block the process, or even block it. Russia did, for instance, refuse to ratify protocol 14 to the ECHR for years and years.
Only after going through all these loops, the Accession Agreement will enter into force, and from that day the EU will formally become the 48th party to the European Convention on Human Rights.
A couple of weeks ago, between June 19 and 22, the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights (french acronym: CDDH) held its 75th meeting. Two topics of particular interest for the MultiRights project were key points on the agenda: the follow-up of the Brighton declaration, and the European Union’s accession to the ECHR. As the title already suggests, this blog post will deal with only the fact that negotiations on the latter has in fact restarted.
(Originally posted on the MultiRights blog 21 June 2012. Click here to view the original post.)
As noted by Antoine Buyse over at the ECHR blog, the parliamentarians of Europe recently welcomed the decision by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to resume the negotiations on the European Union’s accession to the ECHR. The most interesting parts of the press release from the joint informal body of members of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reads as follows:
“A joint informal body of members of the European Parliament and Council of Europe parliamentarians has welcomed the prospect of talks resuming on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The two co-chairs of the Joint Informal Body, Pietro Marcenaro and Carlo Casini, said it was “of the utmost importance” that these negotiations reach a speedy conclusion and that the momentum towards an agreement is not lost.
‘EU accession to the ECHR is crucial with a view to securing a common space for human rights protection across the European continent,’ they said. ‘It is thus essential that the modalities of such accession are completed at a political level as rapidly as possible, and that all outstanding questions are settled.’”
As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, where an overview of the negotiation process was given, the EU’s internal negotiations on the draft Agreement on the Accession of the European Union to the ECHR have been concluded. Thus, it was assumed that the negotiations would continue in a forum that would also include the non-EU member states. Exactly how and when was nevertheless unclear.
Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the European Union has been obliged to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As a result of this obligation, negotiations with a view to drawing up an accession agreement between the Union, on the one hand, and the state parties to the ECHR, on the other, have been underway for more than a year.
(Originally posted on the MultiRights blog 14 May 2012. Click here to view the original post.)
The Union’s accession to the ECHR is of particular interest to the MultiRights project, because it aims to streamline Europe’s multi-leveled system of human rights protection by creating formal links between the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). In this blog post I will briefly explain the complex negotiation process, and outline the next likely steps. Continue reading
This blog has been dead for a few months now. Part of the reason for this is that I have had to put a lot of effort into planning and writing my master thesis. I also attended the Hague Academy of International Law over the summer.
During my stay in the Hague I shared an apartment with the editor of the student-run blog of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, named The View From Above. I was thus invited to write a few blog posts about the main international organizations in Europe, and my thesis topic; the European Union’s accession to the European Convention of Human Rights.
All three of these articles have been published at TVFA this fall, and may be accessed through the following links:
A copy of all three articles is also available through the “Fortsett å lese” link below. However, I recommend reading them on TVFA through the links above. The copies enclosed here are mainly for archival purposes.