Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights

Guidance for NHRIs on ECtHR Judgment Implementation

The European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) system is of paramount importance for the protection of human rights in Europe. To ensure that this system can do what it envisages, that is, to guarantee human rights protection on the ground, the European Convention and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) need to the find their way into the domestic legal orders of Member States. Presently, inadequate execution of the Court’s judgements challenge the effective protection the Convention system can offer. Inadequate, delayed and partial compliance with the judgments of the Court affects the extent to which the Court can trigger and improve human rights protection on the ground. These problems exist across Europe: in 2020, over 5,000 Court cases were still pending execution. Many of the cases that are yet to be implemented are so-called repetitive cases, which shows that there are unresolved issues in Member States, that can result in fresh cases before the Court, affecting the latter’s workload. In addition, the implementation of leading cases continues to be problematic as well.

Overall, NHRIs have been recognised as key stakeholders for ensuring the effective implementation of the ECHR. Not only do the Paris Principles mandate NHRIs to safeguard and promote the implementation of international human rights instruments, NHRIs are particularly well-placed within their national context to engage with the implementation of the Convention system. NHRIs have the necessary expertise and a unique overview of the needs and challenges in the implementation of human rights standards within their State, as well as the authority to engage with their State party. The involvement of NHRIs in the effective national implementation of the Convention system is therefore important, as it has also been emphasised by the Committee of Ministers itself.

For these reasons, NHRI participation in the execution of judgments is equally important. In this respect, NHRI engagement for the purposes of judgment execution on the national level is crucial. Yet, importantly, NHRIs can also participate in international procedures to advance the implementation of Court judgments. It is important to recognise that NHRI efforts taken on the national and international level to implement the Court judgments can be complementary. Such efforts can work as a continuous cycle through which outcomes of domestic activities on implementation can be used as input for international advocacy efforts. Vice versa, outcomes of international advocacy can influence and strengthen efforts on the national level. The Cycle of NHRIs Implementation Work (below) illustrates this.

To support and guide NHRIs in their efforts to work on the execution of ECtHR judgments, this interactive hub compiles existing resources and tools on ECtHR implementation as well as available key lessons learned and existing NHRI good practices. The information hub illustrates how NHRI efforts on ECtHR implementation can work as a continuing cycle where outcomes of national efforts to promote implementation of Court judgments can be used in international advocacy efforts, the outcomes of which can strengthen subsequent national efforts. It provides key examples of NHRI activities, coupled with relevant resources and tools.

Cycle of NHRIs’ Implementation Work

Click on a section below to learn more

Council of Europe Other international mechanisms Engagement with executive branch of government Engagement with the legislator Engagement with civil society and other stakeholders Education and awareness raising International level National level

Key Resources

  • ECtHR factsheets, by theme on the Court’s case law and pending cases.
  • Webpage on the Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The HUDOC EXEC database which gives access to all documents relating to the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (see also: HUDOC EXEC manual):
    • Status of execution of cases;
    • Government action plans/reports;
    • Communications (by NGOs/NHRIs and other actors, including for instance, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the UNHCR);
    • Committee of Ministers’ decisions;
    • Final resolutions.
  • Webpage of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Communications by NHRIs/NGOs.
  • Database that holds all submitted Rule 9 Communications.
  • Country factsheets of the Council of Europe’s Department for the Execution of Judgments of the Court.
  • Thematic factsheets published by the Execution Department, which ‘present an overview of selected legislative and case-law developments in member States, following judgments and decisions of the European Court whose execution has been supervised and concluded by the Committee of Ministers’.
  • 2020 HELP online training course course on the ECHR and execution.
  • Key Committee of Ministers Recommendations concerning the ECHR and the Court judgments execution, specifically:
    • Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the system of the European Convention on Human Rights in university education and professional training – replacing Recommendation Rec (2004)4 on the European Convention on Human Rights in university education and professional training;
    • Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)3 on effective remedies for excessive length of proceedings;
    • Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)2 on efficient domestic capacity for rapid execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;
    • Recommendation Rec(2004)6 on the improvement of domestic remedies;
    • Recommendation Rec(2004)5 on the verification of the compatibility of draft laws, existing laws and administrative practice with the standards laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights;
    • Recommendation Rec(2002)13 on the publication and dissemination in the member states of the text of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights;
    • Recommendation No. R(2000)2 on the re-examination or reopening of certain cases at domestic level following judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
  • ENNHRI Democracy & Rule of Law webpage, including Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Training on the Effective Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Information note on the submission of Rule 9(2) Communications to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
  • Guidance for National Human Rights Institutions to support implementation of Judgments from the European Court of Human Rights.

Last updated in July 2021.

This activity was carried out with funding from the Council of Europe.