Draft Copenhagen Declaration risks undermining the European Court of Human Rights

by | Feb 13, 2018 | Advocacy

The ICJ, together with other NGOs, has expressed serious concerns about the current wording of the draft Copenhagen Declaration on the future of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) system, which has been proposed by the Danish government.

In a joint response to the first draft of the Copenhagen Declaration, the group of NGOs welcomed the willingness of the Danish government to engage with civil society in developing the Declaration, which is to be finalised at an intergovernmental conference in Copenhagen in April 2018.

However the NGOs expressed concerns that some of the language of the Declaration appears to diminish the role of the European Court of Human Rights, and risks fragmenting the European human rights protection system as well as undermining the independence of the Court.  The NGOs emphasised that:

  • The Declaration should affirm the need to respect and preserve the independence of the European Court of Human Rights, and should omit any language or proposals that put the independence of the Court at risk;
  • Effective human rights protection at the national level must be subject to the supervision of the European Court of Human Rights;
  • Greater emphasis should be given to the role of civil society in implementing the ECHR at the national level, and this should be taken into account in developing proposals for more effective implementation;
  • The universality of human rights protection should be respected, and the text should be worded to highlight the importance of all human rights in all situations across all of the Council of Europe states;
  • The Declaration must not call into question the Court’s authority to review human rights cases concerning asylum and immigration, or those arising from international conflicts;
  • Governments should not be given further opportunities to influence the Court, nor should the Declaration provide a pretext for states to exert political pressure on the Court;
  • Council of Europe States should not only implement the European Convention on Human Rights, but also act promptly to execute judgments of the European Court;
  • National processes for the selection and election of European Court judges should be further strengthened.

Europe-JointNGO-Response-Copenhagen-Declaration-Advocacy-2018-ENG (Full document in PDF)

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