Speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg, Jean-Paul Costa, President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), expressed three reasons for optimism about reform measures for the Court in 2010.
Firstly, the Treaty of Lisbon opens the way for the European Union’s participation in the European Convention on Human Rights, strengthening the role of human rights in Europe. Dedicated “to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action,” the treaty was written in 2007. It entered into force in December 2009, a month after it was ratified by the last remaining member of the European Union, the Czech Republic. The treaty amends the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community into a constitutional-type document intended to strengthen and guide the European Union.
Secondly, in January Russia ratified Protocol 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, which is designed to overhaul the procedures of the ECHR. Russia was the last of the forty-seven members of the Council of Europe to ratify the Protocol, which has been on the table since 2006.
Finally, in February 2010 a conference on the future of the ECHR will be held in Interlaken, Switzerland. The conference will draw together member states to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ECHR and to reaffirm their commitment to the protection of human rights in Europe, while outlining a roadmap for the Court’s future development. Currently, more than 100,000 cases are pending before the Court.