The Secretary General of the Council of Europe is elected for a five-year term by the Parliamentary Assembly. It is based on a list of candidates prepared by the Committee of Ministers.

The contracting states to the Convention undertake to abide by and comply with the final judgment. The final judgment is transmitted to the committee of members who supervise the execution of the judgement.

States are required to examine their own law on their own initiative to deal with and respond to alleged violations of Convention rights.

Addressing Questions

On receipt of a request from the Secretary-General, any high contracting (state) party shall furnish an explanation as to the manner in which its internal measures and internal laws ensure the effective implementation of any of the provisions of the Convention.

The Secretary-General has historically addressed all contracting parties. In recent years, new eastern European members, in particular Russia and Moldova, have been addressed questions on specific issues.

The Secretary-General brings responses to the notice of the Parliamentary Assembly and the court. There is no critical scrutiny as such. The responses of parties are published. They are consulted as to whether they wish not to publish.

Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly. The functions of the office are promotion, education and awareness of human rights within the contracting party states. The Commissioner seeks to promote the observance and enjoyment of rights and identify shortcomings in the law and practice of member states.

Annual Reports

An annual report is submitted to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. The Commission may make visits and assessment visits to countries. They may look at one or several specific issues.

The principal function is to give a comprehensive overview of human rights protection in the state concerned. The assessment is made of all member states periodically in conjunction with more focused visits. The results are published on the Commission\’s website.

Other Treaties

In addition to the principal Convention, there are over 200 Council of Europe treaties, many of which deal with human rights issues. They include

Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment 1987.

  • European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages 1992
  • Framework for the Protection of National Minorities 1995,
  • Convention against trafficking in human beings.
  • Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. European agreement relating to persons participating in proceedings of the European Commission and Court of Human Rights.
  • European agreement relation to persons participating in proceedings of the court of human rights.

The Convention is not formally binding on the EU as it has not acceded to it. However, it is binding on the EU  pursuant to the Lisbon Treaty. The EU had earlier bound itself indirectly to the Convention by acknowledging and accepting general principles of European Law.


The Lisbon Treaty contemplated the EU acceding to the Convention.  The Court of Justice of the EU held in  2014 ruled out that the EU has no competence to accede to the European Convention because it did not follow certain conditions. The Lisbon Treaty protocol overruled the above case. A  draft accession agreement was in preparation as of 2015.

At their Council meeting on 7 October 2019, the ministers of justice of the EU Member States reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ministers also agreed to supplementary negotiating directives.

They will be addressed to the Commission so that it can resume negotiations with the Council of Europe in the near future. They will take into account the objections raised by the Court of Justice, which found a draft agreement negotiated in 2013 to be incompatible with the treaties of the European Union (Opinion 2/13 of 18 December 2014).

In May 2019, the Commission submitted an analysis of the legal issues of the CJEU’s decision, which formed the basis for the adapted negotiation guidelines. It is expected that the Commission will resume the negotiations soon. The Treaty on European Union provides for the accession of the EU to the ECHR. Its objective is to reinforce the common values of the Union, improve the effectiveness of EU law, and enhance the coherence of fundamental rights protection in Europe.

The Treaty of Lisbon gives effect to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The rights are stated to be based on the Convention rights. In some cases, there are significant wording differences. The Convention has a broader scope and covers other types of rights.


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