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|European Court of Human Rights|
|Country||47 member states of the Council of Europe|
|Authorized by||European Convention on Human Rights|
|Decisions are appealed to||Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights|
|Number of positions||47 judges. One from each of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe|
|Since||2010 (judge), 2015 (President)|
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR; French: Cour européenne des droits de l’homme) is a supra-national or international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the Convention and its protocols. An application can be lodged by an individual, a group of individuals or one or more of the other contracting states, and, besides judgments, the Court can also issue advisory opinions. The Convention was adopted within the context of the Council of Europe, and all of its 47 member states are contracting parties to the Convention. The Court is based in Strasbourg, France.
The Court was established on 21 January 1959 on the basis of Article 19 of the European Convention on Human Rights when its first members were elected by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Convention charges the Court with ensuring the observance of the engagement undertaken by the contracting states in relation to the Convention and its protocols, that is ensuring the enforcement and implementation of the European Convention in the member states of the Council of Europe. The jurisdiction of the Court has been recognised to date by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. In 1998, the Court became a full-time institution and the European Commission of Human Rights, which used to decide on admissibility of applications, was abolished by Protocol 11.
The accession of new states to the European Convention on Human Rights following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 led to a sharp increase in applications filed in the Court. The efficiency of the Court was threatened seriously by the large number of pending applications, which were accumulating and increasing steadily. In 1999 8,400 applications were allocated to be heard. In 2003 27,200 cases were filed and the number of pending applications rose to approximately 65,000. In 2005, the Court opened 45,500 case files. In 2009 57,200 applications were allocated, with the number of pending applications rose to 119,300. At the time more than 90% of them were declared to be inadmissible, and the majority of cases decided, around 60% of the decisions by the Court, related to what is termed repetitive cases, where the Court has already delivered judgment finding a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights or where well established case law exists on a similar case. Protocol 11 was designed to deal with the backlog of pending cases by establishing the Court and its judges as a full-time institution, by simplifying the procedure and reducing the length of proceedings. However, as the workload of the Court continued to increase, the contracting states agreed that further reforms were necessary and in May 2004 the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Protocol 14 was drafted with the aim of reducing the workload of the Court and that of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which supervises the execution of judgments, so that the Court could focus on cases that raise important human rights issues.
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