Democratic Security Sector Governance

The Council of Europe defines the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as an international court set up in 1959 which rules on individual, or state, applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.[1]

The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty under which the member States of the Council of Europe promise to secure fundamental civil and political rights, not only to their own citizens but also to everyone within their jurisdiction. The Convention, which was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome, entered into force in 1953.[2]

According to the simplified version of the convention and its protocols prepared by the ECtHR the European Union Convention on Human Rights reinforces the following rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

family-insurance-symbol freepikArticle 1 ‐ Obligation to respect human rights

hand-holding-a-stalk freepikArticle 2 ‐ Right to life

man-sitting-with-headache FREEPIKArticle 3 ‐Prohibition of torture

ball-and-chain FREEPIKArticle 4 ‐ Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

origami-bird freepikArticle 5 ‐ Right to liberty and security

law FREEPIKArticle 6 ‐ Right to a fair trial

test-with-time-control-for-a-business-man freepikArticle 7 ‐ No punishment without law

familiar-insurance-symbol freepikArticle 8 ‐ Right to respect for private and family life

mind-gears freepikArticle 9 ‐ Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

man-talking-by-speaker FREEPIKArticle 10 ‐ Freedom of expression

group freepik (2)Article 11 ‐ Freedom of assembly and association

shaking-hands-inside-a-heart freepikArticle 12 ‐ Right to marry

magistrate-with-hammer freepikArticle 13 ‐ Right to an effective judicial remedy

group FREEPIKArticle 14 ‐ Prohibition of discrimination

alarm freepikArticle 15 ‐ Derogation in time of emergency

freepikiconArticle 16 ‐ Restrictions on political activity of foreigners

stopArticle 17 ‐ Prohibition of abuse of rights

freepik stopArticle 18 ‐ Limitation on use of restrictions of rights

courthouse freepikArticles 19 to 51- explain how the European Court of Human Rights works.

court freepikArticle 34 ‐ If your rights contained in the Convention have been violated in one of the member states, you should first appeal to all competent national authorities. If that does not work, then you may appeal directly to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

diploma-roll freepikArticle 52 ‐ If the Secretary General of the Council of Europe requests it, a government must explain how its national law protects the rights of this Convention.


Protocols to the Convention

house-with-dollar-sign freepikArticle 1 of Protocol No. 1 ‐ Protection of property

person-learning-by-reading freepikArticle 2 of Protocol No. 1 ‐ Right to education

voting freepikArticle 3 of Protocol No. 1 ‐ Right to free elections

freepikArticle 2 of Protocol No. 4 ‐ Freedom of movement

rope freepikArticle 1 of Protocol No. 6 ‐ Abolition of the death penalty

political-candidate-speech freepikArticle 2 of Protocol No. 7 ‐ Right of appeal in criminal matters

human-balanced-scale-of-a-businessman freepikArticle 3 of Protocol No. 7 ‐ Compensation for wrongful conviction

no-entry-sign freepikArticle 1 of Protocol No. 12 ‐ General prohibition of discrimination


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The full text of the convention and its protocols can be found here.

A short video, produced by the court that presents these rights can be found here.


What does ECtHR do for Security Sector Reform and Governance?

The European Court of Human Rights’ main security governance role is dispensing justice in cases of human rights abuses at the hands of security sector personnel where national courts have – or would – not become involved, or in instances where options for appealing their decisions were exhausted.

In 2015, according to the court’s Facts and Figures publication, a fourth of the violations handled by the ECtHR concerned Article 6 (right to a fair hearing). Almost 23% of them concerned the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3), and 15% concerned the right to liberty and security (Article 5). All in all, 30% of the violations constituted a serious breach of the Convention (concerning the right to life or the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment).


ECtHR and Ukraine

As is described by the court in its Ukraine Country Profile Factsheet, it has dealt with 5,792 applications concerning Ukraine in 2015, of which 5,711 were declared inadmissible or struck out. It delivered 51 judgments (concerning 81 applications), 50 of which found at least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. These applications mainly concern violations committed by the Ukrainian judicial system, penitentiaries and the security sector. There are also three Inter-State applications filed against Russia and its security sector.

All in all, according to the ECtHR Facts and Figures 2015, out of around 64,850 applications launched in 2015 almost half was against one of the following States: Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Turkey.

The Court’s Case-law and pending cases, as well as country profiles compiled by the ECtHR can be found here.

Other useful ECtHR publications and resources can be found here.




Council of Europe

European Court of Human Rights

[1] Council of Europe

[2] ECtHR

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