Taking Cases to the European Court of Human Rights

In 2020, the European Convention on Human Rights celebrated its seventieth anniversary. During those celebrations, Robert Spano, President of the Council of Europe, classified the Convention’s role as demanding that ‘no man or woman is above the law.’1 It is in this statement that the European Court of Human Rights finds its crucial importance. For when all else fails, it is the Court that demands that national authorities remain faithfully obedient to the Convention. In doing so, it provides an indispensable safeguard against human rights violations. However, this system remains dependent on applicants and their legal representatives successfully bringing cases to the attention of the Court. This manual aims to contribute to that latter task. Since beginning its litigation programme in 1992, the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) has provided legal advice and representation to hundreds of victims of human rights abuse and engaged in effective strategic litigation at the European Court of Human Rights. As of 2010, KHRP has ceased to exist, and in its place, DPI was established, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It is in this context of decades of experience in taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights that this manual came to be. Therefore, it is with pleasure that we introduce the third edition of the English language version of this manual, which provides a comprehensive guide to taking human rights complaints to Strasbourg and includes commentaries on the practice and procedure of the Court and key texts such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court’s application form. Further, and of particular importance to lawyers and advocates who want to keep up-to-date with the ‘living instrument’ aspect of the Convention, the manual sets out the development of the Court since its inception and the changes that have been made in order to enhance the Court’s efficiency. In this regard, it covers the introduction of pilot-judgment procedures and the new admissibility criteria, as well as explaining five conferences held on the future of the Court between 2010-2018. Lastly, a new section is added on the enforcement of judgments. To come full circle again; President Spano rightfully signalled that the Convention system has seldom, if ever, been as important as now. ‘It requires from all of us, the guardians of the Convention, a brave heart and a determined mind’.2 It is to those with the bravest of hearts and the most determined of minds that we present this manual: may you find guidance, solace, and inspiration here”