European Convention on Human Rights

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950 and came into force on 3 September 1953. It was the first instrument to give effect to certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and make them binding.

Under the original system, three institutions were responsible for enforcing the obligations undertaken by the Contracting States: the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. All applications lodged under the Convention by individual applicants and Contracting States were the subject of a preliminary examination by the Commission, which decided whether they were admissible. If a complaint was declared admissible, and where no friendly settlement was reached, the Commission drew up a report establishing the facts and expressing a nonbinding opinion on the merits of the case. The Commission and/or the Government of the State in question could then decide to refer the case to the Court for a final, binding adjudication. If the case was not brought before the Court, the Committee of Ministers would decide.

Since its adoption in 1950 the Convention has been amended a number of times and supplemented with many rights in addition to those set forth in the original text.

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Protocol No. 15

Protocol No. 15 amending the Convention introduces a reference to the principle of subsidiarity and the doctrine of the margin of appreciation. It also reduces from six to four months the time-limit within which an application may be made to the Court following the date of a final domestic decision. The new time-limit will enter into force on 1 February 2022.

Protocol No. 15 to the Convention entered into force on 1 August 2021, as all the States Parties have now signed and ratified it.

 Protocol No. 15   Explanatory report
 Protocol No. 15 (Translation commissionned by the Italian Government)
 Opinion of the Court (06/02/2013)

More information

European Convention - A living instrument

This is an educational publication on the Convention which presents the Convention, its development and its Articles and Protocols in an easy-to-read style.

 The European Convention on Human Rights – A living instrument

Rome, 4 November 1950

Original texts

The official original text dates from 1950. Since 1950 the Convention has been amended by further Protocols (P). Today, the text of the Convention contains the basic version as amended by Protocols 11, 14 and 15, and 7 other protocols: the Additional Protocol (also called 'Protocol No. 1') and Protocols Nos. 4, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 16.

For the text of the latest edition in the 2 official languages, English and French, together with the non-official translations click here.