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Human rights and law
Human rights and law

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3.6 The terms of the European Convention on Human Rights

In 1952 the HCPs agreed that the European Convention on Human Rights should be extended to cover additional rights and freedoms. At the time of drafting the original treaty there were heated debates about whether rights relating to property, education and democratic participation were fundamental human rights. As a compromise these were omitted from the original treaty. Their later inclusion was achieved by an instrument known as a protocol, which, although much shorter than the original ECHR nevertheless followed a similar format. Protocol 1 was signed on 20 March 1952 and it included the following additional rights and freedoms:

  • Article 1: Protection of property

  • Article 2: Right to education

  • Article 3: Right to free elections

Since 1952 there have been a number of additional protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights, so that the Convention must now be considered along with Protocols 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13. Protocol 2 gave the court power to give advisory opinions, and Protocol 9 granted individual applicants the right to bring their cases before the court, although this right only became effective once the relevant HCPs had ratified the Protocol.

You can explore the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols further in Activity 5.

Activity 5: The terms of the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols

Timing: 0 hours 40 minutes

Go to the website for the Council of Europe [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Find treaty 005: ‘Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’, either using the search function on their website or by finding it listed in the Conventions section.

This site contains the actual terms of the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. Take some time to explore the terms of the ECHR and its protocols. Try to identify how many protocols have entered into force and how many countries have made a declaration to treaty 005.


The above website gave you the information that the ECHR opened for signature on 4 November 1950 in Rome and that to enter into force ten ratifications were necessary – the date on which these were obtained was 3 September 1953. A series of questions then followed – by clicking on these you were able to find further information about the number of signatories, declarations made and access the full text of the convention.

You should have been able to identify a number of protocols from the information provided. Some protocols have been used to grant additional rights under the Convention (Protocols 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13). Protocols 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 amended the text of the Convention. However, all provisions amended or added by those protocols have been replaced by Protocol 11 as of 1 November 1998. The use of protocols has allowed the original convention to remain a flexible and living document.

The table below lists the member states of the Council of Europe and the dates on which they signed and ratified the convention. It reflects the position on 31 January 2006.

Table 2: The 46 member states
StatesSignatureRatificationEntry into force
Bosnia and Herzegovina24/4/200212/7/200212/7/2002
Czech Republic21/2/199118/3/19921/1/1993
San Marino16/11/198822/3/198922/3/1989
Serbia and Montenegro3/4/20033/3/20043/3/2004
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia9/11/199510/4/199710/4/1997
United Kingdom4/11/19508/3/19513/9/1953
Total number of ratifications/accessions:46

Whilst this table provides a list of HCPs, it does not provide a full picture as some of the HCPs have made reservations, declarations and objections. The Council of Europe website (accessed 16 January 2008) provides full details of these, including which articles they concern, the period covered and the reasons why. At the time of writing, 25 HCPs had made reservations or declarations. If you looked at the detailed list on the website, you will have seen that the United Kingdom had issued a statement concerning Article 15 and that the period covered was from 12 November 1998. The domestic legislation referred to contained provisions for the prevention of terrorism and port control and was extended to cover the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The website of the Council of Europe provides a great deal of information. Often one of the challenges is navigating around all the information provided. For this activity you were asked to undertake a search for specific information and there were a number of ways in which you could have achieved this. The Council of Europe has attempted to make its website informative but user friendly with quick links, a search option and an A-Z index. It also clearly indicates when the site was last updated.