Press release - 391(2009)

Council of Europe adopts new decisions to improve the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights

Madrid, 12.05.2009 – Ministers for Foreign Affairs and representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member states today adopted Protocol No. 14bis to the European Convention on Human Rights, which will increase the European Court of Human Rights’ short-term capacity to process applications.

At the 119th session of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers held in Madrid, they adopted this new protocol that will allow, pending entry into force of Protocol No. 14, the immediate and provisional application of two procedural elements of Protocol No. 14 with respect to those states that express their consent:

    · a single judge will be able to reject plainly inadmissible applications, whereas now this requires a decision by a committee of three judges.

    · the competence of three-judge committees will be extended to declare applications admissible and decide on their merits in well-founded and repetitive cases, where there already is a well-established case law of the Court. Currently, these cases are handled by chambers of seven judges.

Protocol No.14 bis will be opened for signature on 27 May and it will need the ratification by three states to enter into force. Its provisions shall apply to applications pending before the Court against each of the States for which the Protocol has entered into force. Member states may provisionally apply the provisions before entry into force, if they so wish.

The application of Protocol 14bis, though not providing a definitive answer to the Court´s problems, is estimated to increase the efficiency of the Court by 20-25%.

In the margins of the Ministerial Session, a Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention adopted an agreement by consensus by virtue of which states may individually consent, on a provisional basis, to the direct application of the two mentioned procedural elements of Protocol 14 to the complaints filed against them. This agreement is complementary to Protocol No. 14bis since it opens a second legal avenue towards achieving the same result.

However, the Ministers stated that the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 should remain the first priority.

The Ministers decided to transmit to the Parliamentary Assembly for appointment to the post of Secretary General, with effect 1 September 2009, the candidatures of  Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Thorbjørn Jagland, respectively sponsored by the governments of Poland and Norway.

The Committee also adopted: 

The Ministers also discussed the state of democracy in Belarus, the only European state that is not a Council of Europe member, and the conflict in Georgia.

At the close of the session, Slovenia took over from Spain as Chair of the Committee of Ministers for the next six months.

Press contacts:

In Madrid - Jaime Rodriguez, 33 (0) 6 89 99 50 42
In Strasbourg - Henriette Girard, 33 (0) 3 88 41 21 41


Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11