European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998 it has sat as a full-time court and individuals can apply to it directly.

The Court has delivered more than 10,000 judgments. These are binding on the countries concerned and have led governments to alter their legislation and administrative practice in a wide range of areas. The Court’s case-law makes the Convention a powerful living instrument for meeting new challenges and consolidating the rule of law and democracy in Europe.

The Court is based in Strasbourg, from where the it monitors respect for the human rights of 800 million Europeans in the 47 Council of Europe member States that have ratified the Convention.

5 May 1949 - Creation of the Council of Europe

4 November 1950 - Adoption of the Convention

3 September 1953 - Entry into force of the Convention

21 January 1959 - First members of the Court elected by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe

23-28 February 1959 - The Court’s first session

18 September 1959 - The Court adopts its Rules of Court

14 November 1960 - The Court delivers its first judgment: Lawless v. Ireland

1 November 1998  - Entry into force of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, instituting "the new Court"

18 September 2008 - The Court delivers its 10,000th judgment

1 June 2010 - Entry into force of the Protocol No. 14, whose aim is to guarantee the long-term efficiency of the Court


The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty under which the member States of the Council of Europe promise to secure fundamental civil and political rights, not only to their own citizens but also to everyone within their jurisdiction.

The Convention, which was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome, entered into force in 1953.


The Convention secures in particular:

- the right to life,
- the right to a fair hearing,
- the right to respect for private and family life,
- freedom of expression,
- freedom of thought, conscience and religion and,
- the protection of property.

The Convention prohibits in particular:

- torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
- slavery and forced labour,
- death penalty,
- arbitrary and unlawful detention, and
- discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention.

The European Court of Human Rights Website -