Yearbook of European Law - Vol. 10

By Francis Geoffrey Jacobs | Go to book overview

The European Convention of Human Rights*

COLIN WARBRICK


I. Introduction

1990 was the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, an occasion marked by an Informal Ministerial Conference held at Rome in November. The achievements of the Convention system are considerable and remarkable.1 1990 saw the operation of the revised Convention arrangements introduced by the 8th Protocol.2 For the first time, all the parties to the Convention had made declarations accepting the right of individual application and the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court.3 Finland became a party to the Convention and also accepted the optional obligations. Hungary became a member of the Council of Europe on 6 November 1990. The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic will become a member in 1991. The reach of the Convention was extended to the people and territory of East Germany after unification on 3 October 1990. The Commission of the European Communities has proposed to the Council that it agree to the accession of the Communities to the Convention.4 All this is proper cause for celebration, even though concerns remain about the capabilities of the institutions to cope with everincreasing business.

In 1990, the Commission registered 1657 applicants but disposed of only 1153. There were almost 2300 applications pending at the end of 1990.5 Even though it may be premature to dismiss the changes introduced by the 8th Protocol as insufficient, it is hardly surprising that more radical institutional reform remains under active discussion. The President of the Court, Judge Ryssdal, has taken a prominent part in the debate. His personal inclination is for a full-time Court, though he does not commit himself on the question of

____________________
*
© Colin Warbrick, 1991, Durham European Law Institute, University of Durham. I am very grateful to officials of the Council of Europe for supplying the materials on which these notes are based. For reasons of space, issues not proceeded with before the Court, issues which the Court finds no need to consider, and issues under Article 50 will not be considered unless they raise matters of particular importance.
1
See The Council of Europe and Human Rights, CIM-DH (90) 4, a paper prepared for the Ministerial Conference.
2
ETS No. 118. The revised Rules of Procedure of the Commission are in 12 HRLJ43 ( 1991).
3
Problems remain about Turkey's declarations: for texts, see 11 HRLJ456-9 ( 1990).
4
XXIVth Annual Report on the Activities of the European Communities 1990 ( Commission of the European Communities, Brussels and Luxembourg, 1991), para 899.
5
European Commission of Human Rights, Survey of Activities and Statistics, 1990, 1 and 2.

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