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CM(2004)65add2finalE  / 07 May 2004 

    Ministers' Deputies
    CM Documents

    CM(2004)65 Addendum 2 prov. 2 5 May 2004
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    883 Meeting, 5 May 2004
    1. General Questions


    1.5 Committee of Ministers – Preparation of the 114th Session (Strasbourg, 12-13 May 2004)

    Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

    Explanatory report to the [draft] Protocol No. 14 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, amending the control system of the Convention

    as adopted by the CDDH at its 57th Meeting (5-8 April 2004) and revised on the basis of the recommendations made by the open-ended working group (GT/ECHR) on 4 May 2004 on the draft Protocol No. 14

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    Note by the Secretariat: Changes in comparison to the version dated 15 April 2004 are presented in bold and strikethrough. They reflect the changes made to the draft Protocol No. 14 (see document CM(2004)65 Addendum 1 rev), and take into account certain comments made by two delegations.

    Introduction

    1. Since its adoption in 1950, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”) has been amended and supplemented several times: the High Contracting Parties have used amending or additional protocols to adapt it to changing needs and to developments in European society. In particular, the control mechanism established by the Convention was radically reformed in 1994 with the adoption of Protocol No. 11 which entered into force on 1 November 1998.

    2. Ten years later, at a time when nearly all of Europe's countries have become party to the Convention,1 the urgent need has arisen to adjust this mechanism, and particularly to guarantee the long-term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Court”), so that it can continue to play its pre-eminent role in protecting human rights in Europe.

    I. Need to increase the effectiveness of the control system established by the Convention

    Protocol No. 11

    3. Protocol No. 11 substituted a full-time single Court for the old system established by the 1950 Convention, namely, a Commission, a Court and the Committee of Ministers which played a certain “judicial” role.

    4. Protocol No. 11, which was opened for signature on 11 May 1994 and came into force on 1 November 1998, was intended, firstly, to simplify the system so as to reduce the length of proceedings, and, secondly, to reinforce their judicial character. This protocol made the system entirely judicial (abolition of the Committee of Ministers' quasi-judicial role, deletion of the optional clauses concerning the right of individual application and the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court) and created a single full-time Court.

    5. In this way Protocol No. 11 contributed to enhancing the effectiveness of the system, notably by improving the accessibility and visibility of the Court and by simplifying the procedure in order to cope with the influx of applications generated by the constant increase in the number of states. Whereas the Commission and Court had given a total of 38 389 decisions and judgments in the forty-four years up to 1998 (the year in which Protocol No. 11 took effect), the single Court has given 61 633 in five years.2 None the less, the reformed system, which originated in proposals first made in the 1980s, proved inadequate to cope with the new situation. Indeed, since 1990, there has been a considerable and continuous rise in the number of individual applications as a result, amongst other things, of the enlargement of the Council of Europe. Thus the number of applications increased from 5 279 in 1990 to 10 335 in 1994 (+96%), 18 164 in 1998 (+76%) and 34 546 in 2002 (+90%). Whilst streamlining measures taken by the Court enabled no less than 1 500 applications to be disposed of per month in 2003, this remains far below the nearly 2 300 applications allocated to a decision body every month.

    6. This increase is due not only to the accession of new States Parties (between the opening of Protocol No. 11 for signature in May 1994 and the adoption of Protocol No. 14, thirteen new States Parties ratified the Convention, extending the protection of its provisions to over 240 million additional individuals) and to the rapidity of the enlargement process, but also to a general increase in the number of applications brought against states which were party to the Convention in 1993. In 2004, the Convention system was open to no fewer than 800 million people. As a result of the massive influx of individual applications, the effectiveness of the system, and thus the credibility and authority of the Court, were seriously endangered.

    The problem of the Court's excessive caseload

    7. It is generally recognised that the Court's excessive caseload (during 2003, some 39 000 new applications were lodged and at the end of that year, approximately 65 000 applications were pending before it) manifests itself in two areas in particular: i. processing the very numerous individual applications which are terminated without a ruling on the merits, usually because they are declared inadmissible (more than 90% of all applications), and ii. processing individual applications which derive from the same structural cause as an earlier application which has led to a judgment finding a breach of the Convention (repetitive cases following a so-called “pilot judgment”). A few figures will illustrate this. In 2003, there were some 17 270 applications declared inadmissible (or struck out of the list of cases), and 753 applications declared admissible. Thus, the great majority of cases are terminated by inadmissibility or strike-out decisions (96% of cases disposed of in 2003). In the remaining cases, the Court gave 703 judgments in 2003, and some 60% of these concerned repetitive cases.

    8. Such an increase in the caseload has an impact both on the registry and on the work of the judges and is leading to a rapid accumulation of pending cases not only before committees (see paragraph 5 in fine above) but also before Chambers. In fact, as is the case with committees, the output of Chambers is far from being sufficient to keep pace with the influx of cases brought before them. A mere 8% of all cases terminated by the Court in 2003 were Chamber cases. This stands in stark contrast with the fact that no less than 20% of

    all new cases assigned to a decision-making body in the same year were assigned to a Chamber. This difference between input and output has led to the situation that, in 2003, 40% of all cases pending before a decision-making body were cases before a Chamber. In absolute terms, this accumulation of cases pending before a Chamber is reflected by the fact that, on 1 January 2004, approximately 16 500 cases were pending before Chambers. It is clear that the considerable amount of time spent on filtering work has a negative effect on the capacity of judges and the registry to process Chamber cases.

    9. The prospect of a continuing increase in the workload of the Court and the Committee of Ministers (supervising execution of judgments) in the next few years is such that a set of concrete and coherent measures – including reform of the control system itself – was considered necessary to preserve the system in the future.

    10. At the same time – and this was one of the major challenges in preparing the present protocol – it was vital that reform should in no way affect what are rightly considered the principal and unique features of the Convention system. These are the judicial character of European supervision, and the principle that any person claiming to be the victim of a breach of the rights and freedoms protected by the Convention may refer the matter to the Court (right of individual application).

    11. Indeed, the Convention's control system is unique: the Parties agree to subject themselves to international judicial supervision of their obligation to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention. This control is exercised by the Court, which gives judgments on individual applications brought under Article 34 of the Convention and on state applications – which are extremely rare3 – brought under Article 33. The Court's judgments are binding on respondent Parties and their execution is supervised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

    12. The principle of subsidiarity underlies all the measures taken to increase the effectiveness of the Convention's control system. Under Article 1 of the Convention, it is with the High Contracting Parties that the obligation lies “to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms” guaranteed by the Convention, whereas the role of the Court, under Article 19, is “to ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the High Contracting Parties in the Convention”. In other words, securing rights and freedoms is primarily the responsibility of the Parties; the Court's role is subsidiary.

    13. Forecasts from the current figures by the registry show that the Court's caseload would continue to rise sharply if no action were taken. Moreover, the estimates are conservative ones. Indeed, the cumulative effects of greater awareness of the Convention in particular in new States Parties, and of the entry into force of Protocol No. 12, the ratification of other additional protocols by states which are not party to them, the Court's evolving and extensive interpretation of rights guaranteed by the Convention and the prospect of the European Union's accession to the Convention, suggest that the annual number of applications to the Court could in the future far exceed the figure for 2003.

    14. Measures required to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the control system established by the Convention in the broad sense are not restricted to Protocol No. 14. Measures must also be taken to prevent violations at national level and improve domestic remedies, and also to enhance and expedite execution of the Court's judgments.4 Only a comprehensive set of interdependent measures tackling the problem from different angles will make it possible to overcome the Court's present overload.

    Measures to be taken at national level

    15. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Convention must be protected first and foremost at national level. Indeed this is where such protection is most effective. The responsibility of national authorities in this area must be reaffirmed and the capacity of national legal systems to prevent and redress violations must be reinforced. States have a duty to monitor the conformity of their legislation and administrative practice with the requirements of the Convention and the Court's case-law. In order to achieve this, they may have the assistance of outside bodies. If fully applied, these measures will relieve the pressure on the Court in several ways: they should not only help to reduce the number of well-founded individual applications by ensuring that national laws are compatible with the Convention, or by making findings of violations or remedying them at national level, they will also alleviate the Court's work in that well-reasoned judgments already given on cases at national level make adjudication by the Court easier. It goes without saying, however, that these effects will be felt only in the medium term.

    Measures to be taken concerning execution of judgments

    16. Execution of the Court's judgments is an integral part of the Convention system. The measures that follow are designed to improve and accelerate the execution process. The Court's authority and the system's credibility both depend to a large extent on the effectiveness of this process. Rapid and adequate execution has, of course, an effect on the influx of new cases: the more rapidly general measures are taken by States Parties to execute judgments which point to a structural problem, the fewer repetitive applications there will be. In this regard, it would be desirable for states, over and above their obligations under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention, to give retroactive effect to such measures and remedies. Several measures advocated in the above-mentioned recommendations and resolutions (see footnote 4) pursue this aim. In addition, it would be useful if the Court and, as regards the supervision of the execution of judgments, the Committee of Ministers, adopted a special procedure so as to give priority treatment to judgments that identify a structural problem capable of generating a significant number of repetitive applications, with a view to securing speedy execution of the judgment. The most important Convention amendment in the context of execution of judgments of the Court involves empowering the Committee of Ministers to bring infringement proceedings in the Court against any state which refuses to comply with a judgment.

    17. The measures referred to in the previous paragraph are also designed to increase the effectiveness of the Convention system as a whole. While the supervision of the execution of judgments generally functions satisfactorily, the process needs to be improved to maintain the system's effectiveness.

    Effectiveness of filtering and of subsequent processing of applications by the Court

    18. Filtering and subsequent processing of applications by the Court are the main areas in which Protocol No. 14 makes concrete improvements. These measures are outlined in Chapter III below, and described in greater detail in Chapter IV, which comments on each of the provisions in the protocol.

    * * *

    19. During the preparatory work on Protocol No. 14, there was wide agreement as to the importance of several other issues linked to the functioning of the control system of the Convention which, however, did not require an amendment of the Convention. These are the need to strengthen the registry of the Court to enable it to deal with the influx of cases whilst maintaining the quality of the judgments, the need to encourage more frequent third party interventions by other states in cases pending before the Court which raise important general issues, and, in the area of supervision of execution, the need to strengthen the department for the execution of judgments of the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe and to make optimum use of other existing Council of Europe institutions, mechanisms and activities as a support for promoting rapid execution of judgments.

    II. Principal stages in the preparation of Protocol No. 14

    20. The European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights, held in Rome in November 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention, found that “the effectiveness of the Convention system […] is now at issue” because of “the difficulties that the Court has encountered in dealing with the ever-increasing volume of applications” (Resolution I on institutional and functional arrangements for the protection of human rights at national and European level).5 It accordingly called on the Committee of Ministers to “initiate, as soon as possible, a thorough study of the different possibilities and options with a view to ensuring the effectiveness of the Court in the light of this new situation”.6 The conference also thought it “indispensable, having regard to the ever-increasing number of applications, that urgent measures be taken to assist the Court in carrying out its functions and that an in-depth reflection be started as soon as possible on the various possibilities and options with a view to ensuring the effectiveness of the Court in the light of this new situation”.7

    21. As a follow-up to the ministerial conference, the Ministers' Deputies set up, in February 2001, an Evaluation group to consider ways of guaranteeing the effectiveness of the Court. The group submitted its report to the Committee of Ministers on 27 September 2001.8

    22. Concurrently, the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) set up its own Reflection Group on the Reinforcement of the Human Rights Protection Mechanism. Its activity report was sent to the Evaluation group in June 2001, so that the latter could take it into account in its work.9

    23. To give effect to the conclusions of the Evaluation group's report, the Committee of Ministers agreed in principle to additional budgetary appropriations for the period from 2003 to 2005, to allow the Court to recruit a significant number of extra lawyers, as well as administrative and auxiliary staff. It took similar action to reinforce the Council of Europe Secretariat departments involved in execution of the Court's judgments.

    24. The Court also took account of the Evaluation group's conclusions and those of its Working party on working methods.10 On this basis it adopted a number of measures concerning its own working methods and those of the registry. It also amended its Rules of Court in October 2002 and again in November 2003.

    25. At its 109th session (8 November 2001) the Committee of Ministers adopted its declaration on “The protection of Human Rights in Europe - Guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights”.11 In this text it welcomed the Evaluation group's report and, with a view to giving it effect, instructed the CDDH to:

    – carry out a feasibility study on the most appropriate way to conduct the preliminary examination of applications, particularly by reinforcing the filtering of applications;

    – examine and, if appropriate, submit proposals for amendments to the Convention, notably on the basis of the recommendations in the report of the Evaluation group.

    26. In the light of the work done, particularly by its Reflection Group on the Reinforcement of the Human Rights Protection Mechanism (CDDH-GDR) and its Committee of Experts for the Improvement of Procedures for the Protection of Human Rights (DH-PR), the CDDH reported on progress in these two areas in an interim report, adopted in October 2002 (document CM(2002)146). It focused on three main issues: preventing violations at national level and improving domestic remedies, optimising the effectiveness of filtering and subsequent processing of applications, and improving and accelerating the execution of the Court's judgments.

    27. In the light of this interim report, and following the declaration, “The Court of Human Rights for Europe”, which it adopted at its 111th session (6-7 November 2002),12 the Committee of Ministers decided that it wished to examine a set of concrete and coherent proposals at its ministerial session in May 2003. In April 2003, the CDDH accordingly submitted a final report, detailing its proposals in these three areas (document CM(2003)55). These served as a basis for preparation of the Committee of Ministers' recommendations to the member states and for the amendments made to the Convention.

    28. In its declaration, “Guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights”, adopted at its 112th session (14-15 May 2003), the Committee of Ministers welcomed this report and endorsed the CDDH's approach. It instructed the Ministers' Deputies to implement the CDDH's proposals, so that it could examine texts for adoption at its 114th session in 2004, taking account of certain issues referred to in the declaration. It also asked them to take account of other questions raised in the report, such as the possible accession of the European Union to the Convention, the term of office of judges of the Court, and the need to ensure that future amendments to the Convention were given effect as rapidly as possible.

    29. The CDDH was accordingly instructed to prepare, with a view to their adoption by the Committee of Ministers, not only a draft amending protocol to the Convention with an explanatory report, but also a draft declaration, three draft recommendations and a draft resolution. Work on the elaboration of Protocol No. 14 and its explanatory report was carried out within the CDDH-GDR (renamed Drafting Group on the Reinforcement of the Human Rights Protection Mechanism), while work concerning the other texts was undertaken by the DH-PR.

    30. The Committee of Ministers also encouraged the CDDH to consult civil society, the Court and the Parliamentary Assembly. With this in view, the CDDH carefully examined the opinions and proposals submitted by the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Court, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and certain member states, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. The CDDH-GDR and CDDH have benefited greatly from the contributions of representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Court's registry and the Commissioner's office, who played an active part in its work. The reports and draft texts adopted by the CDDH and the CDDH-GDR were public documents available on the Internet, and copies were sent directly to the Court, Parliamentary Assembly, Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs. The CDDH-GDR also organised two valuable consultations with NGOs and the CDDH benefited from the contribution of the NGOs accredited to it. The Ministers' Deputies were closely involved throughout the process. Protocol No. 14 is thus the fruit of a collective reflection, carried out in a very transparent manner.

    31. After an interim activity report in November 2003 (document CM(2003)165, Addendum I), the CDDH sent the Committee of Ministers its final activity report (document CM(2004)65) in April 2004. This contained the draft amending protocol to the Convention. The Parliamentary Assembly adopted an opinion on the draft protocol (Opinion No. 251 (2004) of 28 April 2004).

    [32. As well as adopting the amending protocol at the 114th ministerial session, held on 12 and 13 May 2004, the Committee of Ministers adopted the declaration “Ensuring the effectiveness of the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights at national and European levels”. In that declaration, the member states recognised the urgency of the reform, and committed themselves to ratifying Protocol No. 14 within two years.]

    [33. The text of the amending protocol was opened for signature by Council of Europe member states, signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights on XXXX 2004.]

    III. Overview of the changes made by Protocol No. 14 to the control system of the European Convention on Human Rights

    34. During the initial reflection stage on the reform of the Convention's control system, which started immediately after the European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights in 2000, a wide range of possible changes to the system were examined, both in the Evaluation group and the CDDH's Reflection group. Several proposals were retained and are taken up in this protocol. Others, including some proposals for radical change of the control system, were for various reasons rejected during the reflection stage.13 Some of these should be mentioned here. For example, the idea of setting up, within the framework of the Convention, “regional courts of first instance” was rejected because, on the one hand, of the risk it would create of diverging case-law and, on the other hand, the high cost of setting them up. Proposals to empower the Court to give preliminary rulings at the request of national courts or to expand the Court's competence to give advisory opinions (Articles 47-49 of the Convention) were likewise rejected. Such innovations might interfere with the contentious jurisdiction of the Court and they would, certainly in the short term, result in additional, not less, work for the Court. Finally, two Two other proposals were rejected because they would have restricted the right of individual application. These were the proposal that the Court should be given discretion to decide whether or not to take up a case for examination (system comparable to the certiorari procedure of the United States Supreme Court) and that it should be made compulsory for applicants to be represented by a lawyer or other legal expert from the moment of introduction of the application (see however Rule 36, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court). It was felt that the principle according to which anyone had the right to apply to the Court should be firmly upheld. The proposal to create a separate filtering body, composed of persons other than the judges of the Court, was also rejected. In this connection, the protocol is based on two

    fundamental premises: filtering work must be carried out within the judicial framework of the Court and there should not be different categories of judges within the same body. Finally, in the light of Opinion No. 251 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly, it was decided not to make provision for permitting an increase of the number of judges without any new amendment to the Convention.

    35. Unlike Protocol No. 11, Protocol No. 14 makes no radical changes to the control system established by the Convention. The changes it does make relate more to the functioning than the nature to the structure of the system. Their main purpose is to improve it, giving the Court the procedural means and flexibility it needs to process all applications in a timely fashion, while allowing it to concentrate on the most important cases which require in-depth examination.

    36. To achieve this, amendments are introduced in three main areas:

    - reinforcement of the Court's filtering capacity in respect of the mass of unmeritorious applications;

    - a new admissibility criterion concerning cases in which the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage; the new criterion contains two safeguard clauses;

    - measures for dealing with repetitive cases.

    37. Together, these elements of the reform seek to reduce the time spent by the Court on clearly inadmissible applications and repetitive applications so as to enable the Court to concentrate on those cases that raise important human rights issues.

    38. The filtering capacity is increased by making a single judge competent to declare inadmissible or strike out an individual application. This new mechanism retains the judicial character of the decision-making on admissibility. The single judges will be assisted by non-judicial rapporteurs, who will be part of the registry.

    39. A new admissibility requirement is inserted in Article 35 of the Convention. The new requirement provides the Court with an important additional tool which should assist it in concentrating on cases which warrant an examination on the merits, by empowering it to declare inadmissible applications where the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage and which, in terms of respect for human rights, do not otherwise require an examination on the merits by the Court. Furthermore, the new requirement contains an explicit condition to ensure that it does not lead to rejection of cases which have not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal. It should be stressed that the new requirement does not restrict the right of individuals to apply to the Court or alter the principle that all individual applications are examined on their admissibility. While the Court alone is competent to interpret the new admissibility requirement and decide on its application, its terms should ensure that rejection of cases requiring an examination on the merits is avoided. The latter will notably include cases which, notwithstanding their trivial nature, raise serious questions affecting the application or the interpretation of the Convention or important questions concerning national law.

    40. The competence of the committees of three judges is extended to cover repetitive cases. They are empowered to rule, in a simplified procedure, not only on the admissibility but also on the merits of an application, if the underlying question in the case is already the subject of well-established case-law of the Court.

    41. As for the other changes made by the protocol, it should be noted, first of all, that the Court is given more latitude to rule simultaneously on the admissibility and merits of individual applications. In fact, joint decisions on admissibility and merits of individual cases are not only encouraged but become the norm. However, the Court will be free to choose, on a case by case basis, to take separate decisions on admissibility.

    42. Moreover, if the Court wishes to increase the number of judges, the plenary Court will fix the number of extra posts required, and the High Contracting Parties for which the extra judges are to be elected. It will send its request to the Committee of Ministers, where a unanimous decision will be required. However, the Committee of Ministers may not create more posts than proposed, or create them for High Contracting Parties other than those designated, by the plenary Court.

    42. Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers may decide, by a two-thirds majority of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee, to bring proceedings before the Grand Chamber of the Court against any High Contracting Party which refuses to comply with the Court's final judgment in a case to which it is party, after having given it notice to do so. The purpose of such proceedings would be to obtain a ruling from the Court as to whether that Party has failed to fulfil its obligation under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

    43. The Committee of Ministers will in certain circumstances also be able to request the Court to give an interpretation of a judgment.

    44. Friendly settlements are encouraged at any stage of the proceedings. Provision is made for supervision by the Committee of Ministers of the execution of decisions of the Court endorsing the terms of friendly settlements.

    45. It should also be noted that judges are now elected for a single nine-year term. Transitional provisions are included to avoid the simultaneous departure of large numbers of judges.

    46. Finally, an amendment has been introduced with a view to possible accession of the European Union to the Convention.

    47. For all these, as well as the further amendments introduced by the protocol, reference is made to the explanations in Chapter IV below.

    IV. Comments on the provisions of the protocol14

    Article 1 of the amending protocol

    Article 20 – Number of judges

    49. While at the time of the drafting of this protocol, no pressing need was felt to increase the number of judges in the foreseeable future, it was considered desirable, in case this becomes necessary in the future, to avoid the heavy procedure of an amending protocol and to provide for a more flexible procedure whereby the Committee of Ministers can take a unanimous decision (in the form of a resolution) on a modification of the number of judges. This procedure is introduced by the new paragraphs 2 to 5 of Article 20.

    50. An increase in the number of judges would allow the Court to deal with a greater number of cases. It is to be expected that any additional post of judge would be requested by the plenary Court to increase its capacity where its caseload is heaviest, quantitatively and/or qualitatively. The Court should give reasons when making any such request.

    51. The provisions of Articles 21 to 24 will of course apply in respect of additional posts of judge. Judges elected to additional posts will be judges like the others and all other provisions of the Convention shall apply accordingly in respect of them (but see paragraph 4 of the new Article 26). More detailed rules on additional posts of judge, including rules concerning the right to vote in the plenary Court of judges elected on additional posts, shall be provided in the Rules of Court.

    Article 2 1 of the amending protocol

    Article 22 – Election of judges

    48. The second paragraph of Article 22 has been deleted since it no longer served any useful purpose in view of the changes made to Article 23. Indeed, there will be no more “casual vacancies” in the sense that every judge elected to the Court will be elected for a single term of nine years, including where that judge's predecessor has not completed a full term (see also paragraph 51 below). In other words, the rule contained in the amended Article 22 (which is identical to paragraph 1 of former Article 22) will apply to every situation where there is a need to proceed to the election of a judge.

    49. It was decided not to amend the first paragraph of Article 22 to prescribe that the lists of three candidates nominated by the High Contracting Parties should contain candidates of both sexes, since that might have interfered with the primary consideration to be given to the merits of potential candidates. However, Parties should do everything possible to ensure that their lists contain both male and female candidates.

    Article 3 2 of the amending protocol

    Article 23 – Terms of office and dismissal

    50. The judges' terms of office have been changed and increased to nine years. Judges may not, however, be re-elected. These changes are intended to reinforce their independence and impartiality, as desired notably by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendation 1649 (2004).

    51. In order to ensure that the introduction of a non-renewable term of office does not threaten the continuity of the Court, the system whereby large groups of judges were renewed at three-year intervals has been abolished. This has been brought about by the new wording of paragraph 1 and the deletion of paragraphs 2 to 4 of former Article 23. In addition, paragraph 5 of former Article 23 has been deleted so that it will no longer be possible, in the event of a casual vacancy, for a judge to be elected to hold office for the remainder of his or her predecessor's term. In the past this has led to undesirable situations where judges were elected for very short terms of office, a situation perhaps understandable in a system of renewable terms of office, but which is unacceptable in the new system. Under the new Article 23, all judges will be elected for a non-renewable term of nine years. This should make it possible, over time, to obtain a regular renewal of the Court's composition, and may be expected to lead to a situation in which each judge will have a different starting date for his or her term of office.

    52. Paragraphs 6 and 7 of the former Article 23 remain, and become paragraphs 2 and 3 of the new Article 23.

    53. In respect of paragraph 2 (the age limit of 70 years), it was decided not to fix an additional age limit for candidates. Paragraphs 1 and 2, read together, may not be understood as excluding candidates who, on the date of election, would be older than 61. That would be tantamount to unnecessarily depriving the Court of the possibility of benefiting from experienced persons, if elected. At the same time, it is generally recommended that High Contracting Parties avoid proposing candidates who, in view of their age, would not be able to hold office for at least half the nine-year term before reaching the age of 70.

    54. In cases where the departure of a judge can be foreseen, in particular for reasons of age, it is understood that the High Contracting Party concerned should ensure that the list of three candidates (see Article 22) is submitted in good time so as to avoid the need for application of paragraph 3 of the new Article 23. As a rule, the list should be submitted at least six months before the expiry of the term of office. This practice should make it possible to meet the concerns expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendation 1649 (2004), paragraph 14.

    55. Transitional provisions are set out in Article 21 of the protocol.

    56. For technical reasons (to avoid renumbering a large number of Convention provisions as a result of the insertion of a new Article 27), the text of former Article 24 (Dismissal) has been inserted in Article 23 as a new fourth paragraph. The title of Article 23 has been amended accordingly.

    Article 4 3 of the amending protocol

    57. For the reason set out in the preceding paragraph, former Article 24 has been deleted; the provision it contained has been inserted in a new paragraph 4 of Article 23.

    Article 5 4 of the amending protocol

    Article 24 – Registry and rapporteurs

    58. Former Article 25 has been renumbered as Article 24; it is amended in two respects. First of all, the second sentence of former Article 25 has been deleted since the legal secretaries, created by Protocol No. 11, have in practice never had an existence of their own, independent from the registry, as is the case at the Court of Justice of the European Communities. Secondly, a new paragraph 2 is added so as to introduce the function of rapporteur as a means of assisting the new single-judge formation provided for in the new Article 27. While it is not strictly necessary from a legal point of view to mention rapporteurs in the Convention text, it was none the less considered important to do so because of the novelty of rapporteur work being carried out by persons other than judges and because it will be indispensable to create these rapporteur functions in order to achieve the significant potential increase in filtering capacity which the institution of single-judge formations aims at. The members of the registry exercising rapporteur functions will assist the new single-judge formations. In principle, the single judge should be assisted by a rapporteur with knowledge of the language and the legal system of the respondent Party. The function of rapporteur will never be carried out by a judge in this context.

    59. It will be for the Court to implement the new paragraph 2 by deciding, in particular, the number of rapporteurs needed and the manner and duration of appointment. On this point, it should be stressed that it would be advisable to diversify the recruitment channels for registry lawyers, in particular for those who will be called upon to act as rapporteur and rapporteurs. One possibility is Without prejudice to the possibility to entrust existing registry lawyers with the rapporteur function, it would be desirable . Another is to reinforce the registry, for a fixed period fixed periods, with lawyers having an appropriate practical experience in the functioning of their respective domestic legal systems. Since rapporteurs will form part of the Court's registry, the usual appointment procedures and relevant staff regulations will apply. This would make it possible to increase the work capacity of the registry while allowing it to benefit from the domestic experience of these lawyers. Moreover, it is understood that the new function of rapporteur should be conferred on persons with a solid legal experience, expertise in the Convention and its case-law and a very good knowledge of at least one of the two official languages of the Council of Europe and who, like the other staff of the registry, meet the requirements of independence and impartiality.

    Article 6 5 of the amending protocol

    Article 25 – Plenary Court

    60. Two new paragraphs f and g have A new paragraph f has been added to this article (formerly Article 26) in order to reflect the new functions function attributed to the plenary Court by this protocol. It is understood that the term “Chambers” appearing in paragraphs b and c refers to administrative entities of the Court (which in practice are referred to as “Sections” of the Court) as opposed to the judicial formations envisaged by the term “Chambers” in new Article 26, paragraph 1, first sentence. It was not considered necessary to amend the Convention in order to clarify this distinction.

    Article 7 6 of the amending protocol

    Article 26 – Single-judge formation, committees, Chambers and Grand Chamber

    61. The text of Article 26 (formerly Article 27) has been amended in several respects. Firstly, a single-judge formation is introduced in paragraph 1 in the list of judicial formations of the Court and a new rule is inserted in a new paragraph 3 to the effect that a judge shall not sit as a single judge in cases concerning the High Contracting Party in respect of which he or she has been elected. The competence of single judges is defined in the new Article 27. In the latter respect, reference is made to the explanations in paragraph 67 below.

    62. Adequate assistance to single judges requires additional resources. The establishment of this system will thus lead to a significant increase in the Court's filtering capacity, on the one hand, on account of the reduction, compared to the old committee practice, of the number of actors involved in the preparation and adoption of decisions (one judge instead of three; the new rapporteurs who could combine the functions of case-lawyer and rapporteur), and, on the other hand, because judges will be relieved of their rapporteur role when sitting in a single-judge formation and, finally, as a result of the multiplication of filtering formations operating simultaneously.

    63. Secondly, some flexibility as regards the size of the Court's Chambers has been introduced by a new paragraph 2. Application of this paragraph will reduce, for a fixed period, the size of Chambers generally; it should not allow, however, for the setting up of a system of Chambers of different sizes which would operate simultaneously for different types of cases.

    68. Thirdly, a new fourth paragraph has been inserted as a consequence of the amendments made to Article 20.

    64. Finally, paragraph 2 of former Article 27 has been amended to make provision for a new system of appointment of ad hoc judges. Under the new rule, contained in paragraph 5 paragraph 4 of the new Article 26, each High Contracting Party is required to draw up a reserve list of ad hoc judges from which the President of the Court shall choose someone when the need arises to appoint an ad hoc judge. This new system is a response to criticism of the old system, which allowed a High Contracting Party to choose an ad hoc judge after the beginning of proceedings. Concerns about this had also been expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly. It is understood that the list of potential ad hoc judges may include names of judges elected in respect of other High Contracting Parties. More detailed rules on the implementation of this new system may be included in the Rules of Court.

    65. The text of paragraph 6 paragraph 5 is virtually identical to that of paragraph 3 of former Article 27.

    Article 8 7 of the amending protocol

    Article 27 – Competence of single judges

    66. Article 27 contains new provisions defining the competence of the new single-judge formation.

    67. The new article sets out the competence of the single-judge formations created by the amended Article 26, paragraph 1. It is specified that the competence of the single judge is limited to taking decisions of inadmissibility or decisions to strike the case out of the list “where such a decision can be taken without further examination”. This means that the judge will take such decisions only in clear-cut cases, where the inadmissibility of the application is manifest from the outset. The latter point is particularly important with regard to the new admissibility criterion introduced in Article 35 (see paragraphs 77 to 85 below), in respect of which the Court's Chambers and Grand Chamber will have to develop case-law first (See, in this connection, the transitional rule contained in Article 20, paragraph 2, second sentence, of this protocol, according to which the application of the new admissibility criterion is reserved to Chambers and the Grand Chamber in the two years following the entry into force of this protocol).

    Besides, it is recalled that, as was explained in paragraph 58 above, single-judge formations will be
    assisted by rapporteurs. The decision itself remains the sole responsibility of the judge. In case of doubt as to the admissibility, the judge will refer the application to a committee or a Chamber.

    Article 9 8 of the amending protocol

    Article 28 – Competence of committees

    68. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the amended Article 28 extend the powers of three-judge committees. Hitherto, these committees could, unanimously, declare applications inadmissible. Under the new paragraph 1.b of Article 28, they may now also, in a joint decision, declare individual applications admissible and decide on their merits, when the questions they raise concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention are covered by well-established case-law of the Court. “Well-established case-law” normally means case-law which has been consistently applied by a Chamber. Exceptionally, however, it is conceivable that a single judgment on a question of principle may constitute “well-established case-law”, particularly when the Grand Chamber has rendered it. This applies, in particular, to repetitive cases, which account for a significant proportion of the Court's judgments (in 2003, approximately 60%). Parties may, of course, contest the “well-established” character of case-law before the committee.

    69. The new procedure is both simplified and accelerated, although it preserves the adversarial character of proceedings and the principle of judicial and collegiate decision-making on the merits. Compared to the ordinary adversarial proceedings before a Chamber, it will be a simplified and accelerated procedure in that the Court will simply bring the case (possibly a group of similar cases) to the respondent Party's attention, pointing out that it concerns an issue which is already the subject of well-established case-law. Should the respondent Party agree with the Court's position, the latter will be able to give its judgment very rapidly. The respondent Party may contest the application of Article 28, paragraph 1.b, for example, if it considers that domestic remedies have not been exhausted or that the case at issue differs from the applications which have resulted in the well-established case-law. However, it may never veto the use of this procedure which lies within the committee's sole competence. The committee rules on all aspects of the case (admissibility, merits, just satisfaction) in a single judgment or decision. This procedure requires unanimity on each aspect. Failure to reach a unanimous decision counts as no decision, in which event the Chamber procedure applies (Article 29). It will then fall to the Chamber to decide whether all aspects of the case should be covered in a single judgment. Even when the committee initially intends to apply the procedure provided for in Article 28, paragraph 1.b, it may declare an application inadmissible under Article 28, paragraph 1.a. This may happen, for example, if the respondent Party has persuaded the committee that domestic remedies have not been exhausted.

    70. The implementation of the new procedure will increase substantially the Court's decision-making capacity and effectiveness, since many cases can be decided by three judges, instead of the seven currently required when judgments or decisions are given by a Chamber.

    71. Even when a three-judge committee gives a judgment on the merits, the judge elected in respect of the High Contracting Party concerned will not be an ex officio member of the decision-making body, in contrast with the situation with regard to judgments on the merits under the Convention as it stands. The presence of this judge would not appear necessary, since committees will deal with cases on which well-established case-law exists. However, a committee may invite the judge elected in respect of the High Contracting Party concerned to replace one of its members as, in some cases, the presence of this judge may prove useful. For example, it may be felt that this judge, who is familiar with the legal system of the respondent Party, should join in taking the decision, particularly when such questions as exhaustion of domestic remedies need to be clarified. One of the factors which a committee may consider, in deciding whether to invite the judge elected in respect of the respondent Party to join it, is whether that Party has contested the applicability of paragraph 1.b. The reason why this factor has been explicitly mentioned in paragraph 3 is that it was considered important to have at least some reference in the Convention itself to the possibility for respondent Parties to contest the application of the simplified procedure (see paragraph 74 paragraph 69 above). For example, a respondent Party may contest the new procedure on the basis that the

    case in question differs in some material respect from the established case-law cited. It is likely that the expertise of the “national judge” in domestic law and practice will be relevant to this issue and therefore helpful to the committee. Should this judge be absent or unable to sit, the procedure provided for in the new Article 26, paragraph 5 paragraph 4 in fine applies.

    72. It is for the Court, in its rules, to settle practical questions relating to the composition of three-judge committees and, more generally, to plan its working methods in a way that optimises the new procedure's effectiveness.

    Article 10 9 of the amending protocol

    Article 29 – Decisions by Chambers on admissibility and merits

    73. Apart from a technical change to take into account the new provisions in Articles 27 and 28, paragraph 1 of the amended Article 29 encourages and establishes the principle of the taking of joint decisions by Chambers on the admissibility and merits of individual applications. This article merely endorses the practice which has already developed within the Court. While separate decisions on admissibility were previously the norm, joint decisions are now commonly taken on the admissibility and merits of individual applications, which allows the registry and judges to process cases faster whilst respecting fully the principle of adversarial proceedings. However, the Court may always decide that it prefers to take a separate decision on the admissibility of a particular application.

    74. This change does not apply to interstate cases. On the contrary, the rule of former Article 29, paragraph 3, has been explicitly maintained in paragraph 2 of Article 29 as regards such applications. Paragraph 3 of former Article 29 has been deleted.

    Article 11 10 of the amending protocol

    Article 31 – Powers of the Grand Chamber

    75. A new paragraph b has been added to this article in order to reflect the new function attributed to the Grand Chamber by this protocol, namely to decide on issues referred to the Court by the Committee of Ministers under the new Article 46, paragraph 4 (question whether a High Contracting Party has failed to fulfil its obligation to comply with a judgment).

    Article 12 11 of the amending protocol

    Article 32 – Jurisdiction of the Court

    76. A reference has been inserted to the new procedures provided for in the amended Article 46.

    Article 13 12 of the amending protocol

    Article 35 – Admissibility criteria

    77. A new admissibility criterion is added to the criteria laid down in Article 35. As explained in paragraph 39 above, the purpose of this amendment is to provide the Court with an additional tool which should assist it in its filtering work and allow it to devote more time to cases which warrant examination on the merits, whether seen from the perspective of the legal interest of the individual applicant or considered from the broader perspective of the law of the Convention and the European public order to which it contributes. The new criterion therefore pursues the same aim as some other key changes introduced by this protocol and is complementary to them.

    78. The introduction of this criterion was considered necessary in view of the ever-increasing caseload of the Court. In particular, it is necessary to give the Court some degree of flexibility in addition to that already provided by the existing admissibility criteria, whose interpretation has become established in the case-law that has developed over several decades and is therefore difficult to change. This is so because it is very likely that the numbers of individual applications to the Court will continue to increase, up to a point where the other measures set out in this protocol may well prove insufficient to prevent the Convention system from becoming totally paralysed, unable to fulfil its central mission of providing legal protection of human rights at the European level, rendering the right of individual application illusory in practice.

    79. The new criterion may lead to certain cases being declared inadmissible which would not have been so declared might have resulted in a judgment without it. Its main effect, however, is likely to be that it will in the longer term enable more rapid disposal of unmeritorious cases. Once the Court's Chambers have developed clear-cut jurisprudential criteria of an objective character capable of straightforward application, the new criterion will be easier for the Court to apply than some other admissibility criteria, including in cases which would at all events have to be declared inadmissible on another ground.

    80. The main element contained in the new criterion is the question whether the applicant has suffered a significant disadvantage. These terms are open to interpretation (this is the additional element of flexibility introduced); the same is true of many other terms used in the Convention, including some other admissibility criteria. Like those other terms, they are legal terms capable of, and requiring, interpretation establishing objective criteria through the gradual development of the case-law of the Court.

    81. The second element is a safeguard clause to the effect that, even where the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage, the application will not be declared inadmissible if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention or the protocols thereto requires an examination on the merits. The wording of this element is drawn from the second sentence of Article 37, paragraph 1, of the Convention where it fulfils a similar function in the context of decisions to strike applications out of the Court's list of cases.

    82. A second safeguard clause is added to this first one. It will never be possible for the Court to reject an application on account of its trivial nature if the case has not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal. This clause, which reflects the principle of subsidiarity, ensures that, for the purposes of the application of the new admissibility criterion, every case will receive a judicial examination whether at the national level or at the European level.

    83. The wording of the new criterion is thus designed to avoid rejection of cases warranting an examination on the merits. As was explained in paragraph 39 above, the latter will notably include cases which, notwithstanding their trivial nature, raise serious questions affecting the application or interpretation of the Convention or important questions concerning national law.

    84. As explained in paragraph 67 above, it will take time for the Court's Chambers or Grand Chamber to establish clear case-law principles for the operation of the new criterion in concrete contexts. It is clear, having regard to the wording of Articles 27 and 28, that single-judge formations and committees will not be able to apply the new criterion in the absence of such guidance. In accordance with Article 20, paragraph 2, second sentence, of this protocol, single-judge formations and committees will be prevented from applying the new criterion during a period of two years following the entry into force of this protocol.

    85. In accordance with the transitional rule set out in Article 20, paragraph 2, first sentence, of this protocol (see also paragraph 105 below), the new admissibility criterion may not be applied to applications declared admissible before the entry into force of this protocol.

    Article 14 13 of the amending protocol

    Article 36 – Third party intervention

    86. This provision originates in an express request from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,15 supported by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendation 1640 (2004) on the 3rd Annual Report on the Activities of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (1 January-31 December 2002), adopted on 26 January 2004.

    87. It is already possible for the President of the Court, on his or her own initiative or upon request, to invite the Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene in pending cases. With a view to protecting the general interest more effectively, the third paragraph added to Article 36 for the first time mentions the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Convention text by formally providing that the Commissioner has the right to intervene as third party. The Commissioner's experience may help enlighten the Court on certain questions, particularly in cases which highlight structural or systemic weaknesses in the respondent or other High Contracting Parties.

    88. Under the Rules of Court, the Court is required to communicate decisions declaring applications admissible to any High Contracting Party of which an applicant is a national. This rule cannot be applied to the Commissioner, since sending him or her all such decisions would entail an excessive amount of extra work for the registry. The Commissioner must therefore seek this information him- or herself. The rules on exercising this right of intervention, and particularly time limits, would not necessarily be the same for High Contracting Parties and the Commissioner. The Rules of Court will regulate practical details concerning the application of paragraph 3 of Article 36.

    89. It was not considered necessary to amend Article 36 in other respects. In particular, it was decided not to provide for a possibility of third party intervention in the new committee procedure under the new Article 28, paragraph 1.b, given the straightforward nature of cases to be decided under that procedure.

    Article 15 14 of the amending protocol

    Article 38 – Examination of the case

    90. Article 38 incorporates the provisions of paragraph 1.a of former Article 38. The changes are intended to allow the Court to examine cases together with the Parties' representatives, and to undertake an investigation, not only when the decision on admissibility has been taken, but at any stage in the proceedings. They are a logical consequence of the changes made in Articles 28 and 29, which encourage the taking of joint decisions on the admissibility and merits of individual applications. Since this provision applies even before the decision on admissibility has been taken, High Contracting Parties are required to provide the Court with all necessary facilities prior to that decision. The Parties' obligations in this area are thus reinforced. It was not considered necessary to amend Article 38 (or Article 34, last sentence) in other respects, notably as regards possible non-compliance with these provisions. These provisions already provide strong legal obligations for the High Contracting Parties and, in line with current practice, any problems which the Court might encounter in securing compliance can be brought to the attention of the Committee of Ministers so that the latter take any steps it deems necessary.

    Article 16 15 of the amending protocol

    Article 39 – Friendly settlements

    91. The provisions of Article 39 are partly taken from former Article 38, paragraphs 1.b and 2, and also from former Article 39. To make the Convention easier to read with regard to the friendly settlement procedure, it was decided to address it in a specific article.

    92. As a result of the implementation of the new Articles 28 and 29, there should be fewer separate decisions on admissibility. Since under the former Article 38, paragraph 1.b, it was only after an application had been declared admissible that the Court placed itself at the disposal of the parties with a view to securing a friendly settlement, this procedure had to be modified and made more flexible. The Court is now free to place itself at the parties' disposal for this purpose at any stage in the proceedings.

    93. Friendly settlements are therefore encouraged, and may prove particularly useful in repetitive cases, and other cases where questions of principle or changes in domestic law are not involved.16 It goes without saying that these friendly settlements must be based on respect for human rights, pursuant to Article 39, paragraph 1, as amended.

    94. The new Article 39 provides for supervision of the execution of friendly settlements by the Committee of Ministers. This new provision was inserted to reflect a practice which the Court had already developed. In the light of the text of former Article 46, paragraph 2, the Court used to endorse friendly settlements through judgments and not – as provided for in former Article 39 of the Convention – through decisions, whose execution was not subject to supervision by the Committee of Ministers. The practice of the Court was thus in response to the fact that only the execution of judgments was supervised by the Committee of Ministers (former Article 39). It was recognised, however, that adopting a judgment, instead of a decision, might have negative connotations for respondent Parties, and make it harder to secure a friendly settlement. The new procedure should make this easier and thus reduce the Court's workload. For this reason, the new Article 39 gives the Committee of Ministers authority to supervise the execution of decisions endorsing the terms of friendly settlements. This amendment is in no way intended to reduce the Committee's present supervisory powers, particularly concerning the strike-out decisions covered by Article 37. It would be advisable for the Committee of Ministers to distinguish more clearly, in its practice, between its supervision function by virtue of the new Article 39, paragraph 4 (friendly settlements), on the one hand and that under Article 46, paragraph 2 (execution of judgments), on the other.

    Article 17 16 of the amending protocol

    Article 46 – Binding force and execution of judgments

    95. The first two paragraphs of Article 46 repeat the two paragraphs of the former Article 46. Paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 are new.

    96. The new Article 46, in its paragraph 3, empowers the Committee of Ministers to ask the Court to interpret a final judgment, for the purpose of facilitating the supervision of its execution. The Committee of Ministers' experience of supervising the execution of judgments shows that difficulties are sometimes encountered due to disagreement as to the interpretation of judgments. The Court's reply settles any argument concerning a judgment's exact meaning. The qualified majority vote required by the last sentence of paragraph 3 shows that the Committee of Ministers should use this possibility sparingly, to avoid over-burdening the Court.

    97. The aim of the new paragraph 3 is to enable the Court to give an interpretation of a judgment, not to pronounce on the measures taken by a High Contracting Party to comply with that judgment. No time-limit has been set for making requests for interpretation, since a question of interpretation may arise at any time during the Committee of Ministers' examination of the execution of a judgment. The Court is free to decide on the manner and form in which it wishes to reply to the request. Normally, it would be for the formation of the Court which delivered the original judgment to rule on the question of interpretation. More detailed rules governing this new procedure may be included in the Rules of Court.

    98. Rapid and full execution of the Court's judgments is vital. It is even more important in cases concerning structural problems, so as to ensure that the Court is not swamped with repetitive applications. For this reason, ever since the Rome ministerial conference of 3 and 4 November 2000 (Resolution I),17 it has been considered essential to strengthen the means given in this context to the Committee of Ministers. The Parties to the Convention have a collective duty to preserve the Court's authority – and thus the Convention system's credibility and effectiveness – whenever the Committee of Ministers considers that one of the High Contracting Parties refuses, expressly or through its conduct, to comply with the Court's final judgment in a case to which it is party.

    99. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 46 accordingly empower the Committee of Ministers to bring infringement proceedings in the Court (which shall sit as a Grand Chamber – see new Article 31, paragraph b), having first served the state concerned with notice to comply. The Committee of Ministers' decision to do so requires a qualified majority of two thirds of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee. This infringement procedure does not aim to reopen the question of violation, already decided in the Court's first judgment. Nor does it provide for payment of a financial penalty by a High Contracting Party found in violation of Article 46, paragraph 1. It is felt that the political pressure exerted by proceedings for non-compliance in the Grand Chamber and by the latter's judgment should suffice to secure execution of the Court's initial judgment by the state concerned.

    100. The Committee of Ministers should bring infringement proceedings only in exceptional circumstances. None the less, it appeared necessary to give the Committee of Ministers, as the competent organ for supervising execution of the Court's judgments, a wider range of means of pressure to secure execution of judgments. Currently the ultimate measure available to the Committee of Ministers is recourse to Article 8 of the Council of Europe's Statute (suspension of voting rights in the Committee of Ministers, or even expulsion from the Organisation). This is an extreme measure, which would prove counter-productive in most cases; indeed the High Contracting Party which finds itself in the situation foreseen in paragraph 4 of Article 46 continues to need, far more than others, the discipline of the Council of Europe. The new Article 46 therefore adds further possibilities of bringing pressure to bear to the existing ones. The procedure's mere existence, and the threat of using it, should act as an effective new incentive to execute the Court's judgments. It is foreseen that the outcome of infringement proceedings would be expressed in a judgment of the Court.

    Article 18 17 of the amending protocol

    Article 59 – Signature and ratification

    101. Article 59 has been amended in view of possible accession by the European Union to the Convention. A new second paragraph makes provision for this possibility, so as to take into account the developments that have taken place within the European Union, notably in the context of the drafting of a constitutional treaty, with regard to accession to the Convention. It should be emphasised that further modifications to the Convention will be necessary in order to make such accession possible from a legal and technical point of view. The CDDH adopted a report identifying those issues in 2002 (document DG-II(2002)006). This report was transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which took note of it. The CDDH accepted that those modifications could be brought about either through an amending protocol to the Convention or by means of an accession treaty to be concluded between the European Union, on the one hand, and the States Parties to the Convention, on the other. While the CDDH had expressed a preference for the latter, it was considered advisable not to refer to a possible accession treaty in the current protocol so as to keep all options open for the future.

    102. At the time of drafting of this protocol, it was not yet possible to enter into negotiations – and even less to conclude an agreement – with the European Union on the terms of the latter's possible accession to the Convention, simply because the European Union still lacked the competence to do so. This made it impossible to include in this protocol the other modifications to the Convention necessary to permit such accession. As a consequence, a second ratification procedure will be necessary in respect of those further modifications, whether they be included in a new amending protocol or in an accession treaty.

    Final and transitional provisions

    Article 19 18 of the amending protocol

    103. This article is one of the usual final clauses included in treaties prepared within the Council of Europe. This protocol does not contain any provisions on reservations. By its very nature, this amending protocol excludes the making of reservations.

    Article 20 19 of the amending protocol

    104. This article is one of the usual final clauses included in treaties prepared within the Council of Europe. The period of three months mentioned in it corresponds to the period which was chosen for protocols Nos 12 and 13. As the implementation of the reform is urgent, this period was chosen rather than one year, which had been the case for Protocol No. 11. For Protocol No. 11, the period of one year was necessary in order to allow for the setting up of the new Court, and in particular for the election of the judges.

    Article 21 20 of the amending protocol

    105. The first paragraph of this transitional provision confirms that, upon entry into force of this protocol, its provisions can be applied immediately to all pending applications so as not to delay the impact of the system's increased effectiveness which will result from the protocol. In view of Article 35, paragraph 4 in fine of the Convention it was considered necessary to provide, in the second paragraph, first sentence, of Article 20 of the amending protocol, that the new admissibility criterion inserted by Article 13 of this protocol in Article 35, paragraph 3.b, of the Convention shall not apply to applications declared admissible before the entry into force of the protocol. The second sentence of the second paragraph explicitly reserves, for a period of two years following the entry into force of this protocol, the application of the new admissibility criteria to the Chambers and the Grand Chamber of the Court. This rule recognises the need to develop case-law on the interpretation of the new criterion before the latter can be applied by single-judge formations or committees.

    Article 22 21 of the amending protocol

    106. This article contains transitional rules to accompany the introduction of the new provision in Article 23, paragraph 1, on the terms of office of judges (paragraphs 2 to 4 of new Article 23 are not affected by these transitional rules). The terms of office of the judges will not expire on the date of entry into force of this protocol but continue to run after that date. In addition, the terms of office shall be extended in accordance with the rule of the first or that of the second sentence of Article 21, depending on whether the judges are serving their first term of office on the date of the entry into force of this protocol or not. These rules aim at avoiding a situation where, at any particular point in time, a large number of judges would be replaced by new judges. The rules seek to mitigate the effects, after entry into force of the protocol, of the existence – for election purposes – under the former system of two main groups of judges whose terms of office expire simultaneously. As a result of these rules, the two main groups of judges will be split up into smaller groups, which in turn will lead to staggered elections of judges. Those groups are expected to disappear gradually, as a result of the amended Article 23 (see the commentary in paragraph 51 above).

    107. For the purposes of the first sentence of Article 21, judges completing their predecessor's term in accordance with former Article 23, paragraph 5, shall be deemed to be serving their first term of office. The second sentence applies to the other judges, provided that their term of office has not expired on the date of entry into force of the protocol.

    Article 23 22 of the amending protocol

    108. This article is one of the usual final clauses included in treaties prepared within the Council of Europe.

    * * *

Note 1 . In early 2004, Belarus and Monaco were the only potential or actual candidates for membership still outside the Council of Europe.
Note 2 . Unless otherwise stated, the figures given here are taken from the document “Survey of Activities 2003” produced by the European Court of Human Rights or based on more recent information provided by its registry.
Note 3 . As at 1 January 2004, there have only been 20 interstate applications.
Note 4 . The Committee of Ministers has adopted a series of specific instruments for this purpose:
Note - Recommendation No. R (2000) 2 of the Committee of Ministers on the re-examination or reopening of certain cases at domestic level following judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;
Note - Recommendation Rec(2002)13 of the Committee of Ministers on the publication and dissemination in the member states of the text of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights;
Note - Recommendation Rec(2004)XX of the Committee of Ministers on the European Convention on Human Rights in university education and professional training;
Note - Recommendation Rec(2004)XX of the Committee of Ministers on the verification of the compatibility of draft laws, existing laws and administrative practice with the standards laid down by the European Convention on Human Rights;
Note - Recommendation Rec(2004)XX of the Committee of Ministers on the improvement of domestic remedies;
Note - Resolution Res(2002)58 of the Committee of Ministers on the publication and dissemination of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights;
Note - Resolution Res(2002)59 of the Committee of Ministers concerning the practice in respect of friendly settlements;
Note - Resolution Res(2004)XX of the Committee of Ministers on judgments revealing an underlying systemic problem.
Note All these instruments, as well as this protocol, are referred to in the general declaration of the Committee of Ministers “Ensuring the effectiveness of the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights at national and European levels”, adopted on … May 2004.
Note 5 . Paragraph 16 of the resolution.
Note 6 . Paragraph 18 ii. of the resolution.
Note 7 . Declaration of the Rome Ministerial Conference on Human Rights: “The European Convention on Human Rights at 50: what future for the protection of human rights in Europe?”.
Note 8 . “Report of the Evaluation Group to the Committee of Ministers on the European Court of Human Rights”, Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 27 September 2001, published in the Human Rights Law Journal (HRLJ), 22, 2001, pp. 308 ff.
Note 9 . The “Report of the Reflection Group on the Reinforcement of the Human Rights Protection Mechanism” is contained in Appendix III to the “Report of the Evaluation Group to the Committee of Ministers on the European Court of Human Rights” (op. cit.).
Note 10 0. “Three years' work for the future. Final report of the Working Party on Working Methods of the European Court of Human Rights”, Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 2002.
Note 11 1. Declaration published in French in the Revue universelle des droits de l'homme (RUDH) 2002, p. 331.
Note 12 2. Declaration published in French in the Revue universelle des droits de l'homme (RUDH) 2002, p. 331.

    13 3. See, for a fuller overview, the activity report of the CDDH's Reflection group (document CDDH-GDR(2001)10, especially its Appendices I and II), the report of the Evaluation group (see footnote 8 above) as well as the CDDH's interim report of October 2002 (document CM(2002)146) which contains a discussion of various suggestions made at the Seminar on Partners for the Protection of Human Rights: Reinforcing Interaction between the European Court of Human Rights and National Courts (Strasbourg, 9-10 September 2002).

Note 14 4. Unless otherwise specified, the references to articles are to the Convention as amended by the protocol.
Note 15 5. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights was established by Resolution (99) 50, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 May 1999.
Note 16 6. See, in this connection, Resolution Res(2002)59 concerning the practice in respect of friendly settlements (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 December 2002, at the Deputies' 822nd meeting.
Note 17 7. See paragraphs 19 to 22 of the resolution.


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