Copenhagen Conference 2018
13 Apr 2018

Copenhagen Conference agrees reform of the European Convention on Human Rights

The High-Level Conference on the reform of Human Rights Convention system concluded today, 13 April, with the adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration.

Strengthening the Court and Convention system

The Copenhagen Declaration affirms CoE Member States’ commitment to a strong and independent ECtHR, right to individual petition and responsibility of states for national implementation.

The Declaration follows up on previous political declarations adopted in Interlaken, Izmir, Brighton and Brussels and aims to address the crucial topic of the independence and effectiveness of the ECHR.

Recognition of the crucial role played by NHRIs in the national implementation of the Convention

ENNHRI is among the participants in the Copenhagen Conference

Speaking Thursday 12 April at the event, ENNHRI Secretary General, Debbie Kohner, welcomed the recent refinement of the Declaration, and the integration of the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including National Human Rights Institutions and civil society:

“ENNHRI acknowledges with appreciation the recognition in the Declaration of the crucial role played by NHRIs in the national implementation of the Convention, and for underlining the importance of establishing an independent NHRI, in compliance with the Paris Principles, in each Member State”.

In this respect, a positive news came from Malta’s representatives, who announced the future establishment of a National Human Rights Institution.

Debbie Kohner, ENNHRI Secretary-General, at the high level meeting in Copenhagen

Debbie Kohner further remarked in her intervention that the Declaration has been strengthened by:

  • underlining the right of individual applications as a cornerstone of the Convention system, 
  • introducing a commitment to the adequate funding for the Court;
  • developing the procedure for the selection and election of judges; and
  • emphasising the importance of the supervisory role and independence of the Court, which ultimately is responsible for the interpretation of the evolving principle of subsidiarity.

Earlier this year, in its submission on the draft Declaration of Copenhagen ENNHRI had warned against the weakening of the Convention system: the Convention system rests on a shared responsibility between States Parties & the Court, not a primary role for State Parties. ENNHRI also underlined in the submission that National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are important actors in the national implementation of the Convention standards, and called for States who do not yet have an NHRI to establish one.

Further recommendations

ENNHRI further recommends that, in the implementation of the Declaration, NHRIs (as well as civil society) are also included in other actions, such as:

  • The enhanced dialogue between the national and European levels of the Convention system; and 
  • Being recipients of timely information on the cases (particularly before the grand Chamber) that could raise questions of principle.

“The implementation and interpretation of this Declaration will be key, as well as the national implementation of the Court’s judgments” concluded ENNHRI Secretary General. Participants in the event, included representatives of all 47 Members States and key actors from the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights: the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Guido Raimondi and the President of the COE Parliamentary Assembly, Michele Nicoletti, Dunja Mijatovic, COE Commissioner for Human Rights, and Jonas Christoffersen, Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The Conference took place between 11-13 April as part of the Danish Chairmanship of the Council of Europe (COE).

Selection of ECHR judges in the spotlight

ENNHRI Secretary General also attended on 12 April a ministerial side event on selection of ECHR judges, organized by the International Commission of Jourists, the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Building on the discussions at the Copenhagen Conference, the participants in the event discussed how best to ensure high standards in national selection procedures for the ECHR judges.