Implementation and advocacy
Receiving a judgment from a judicial body such as the European Court does not always mark the end of the litigation process for us. Aside from ordering the payment of compensation, the Court may also require States to carry out effective investigations into particular incidents, to release an individual from prison, or reinstate someone to their former post. It can also order a State to make changes to their domestic laws or practices. In many cases, there is often a lack of political will on the part of States to fully implement the Court’s judgments and decisions, in particular, when it comes to reforming law, policy and practice.
Pressing for effective implementation can help to bring about long-term positive change in the countries in which we work, and ensure that judgments have a wider impact on society.
Our ultimate goal is for changes to be made to domestic laws, policies and practices in the countries we focus on, so that they comply with international human rights standards, including the European Convention of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), or the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We support our partner organisations to ensure that international human rights standards are upheld, in line with judgments and decisions by:
- Making submissions on individual cases to the Committee of Ministers, the body made up of representatives from Council of Europe Member States, to advocate for the effective implementation of judgments, or to other international or domestic bodies with responsibility for ensuring that judgments and decisions are effectively implemented nationally. Recently, we have done this in the case of human rights defender Rasul Jafarov (Azerbaijan) and former Georgian Prime Minister Ivane Merabishvili.
- Using new and creative approaches to persuade states to implement judgments. For example, arguing for the initiation of Infringement Proceedings, which allows the Committee of Ministers to refer a case back to the European Court where a State has failed to abide by a judgment.
- Working collaboratively with non-governmental organisations to promote implementation of the European Court’s judgments.
EHRAC is also a founding member of the European Implementation Network (EIN), which aims to champion the implementation of European Court judgments through collaboration with a range of partners, from Council of Europe institutions to litigating NGOs to national government officials, in order to address the crisis of non-implementation of human rights judgments. EHRAC Director Philip Leach is Vice-Chair of EIN’s Board.
We play an active role in discussions on the ongoing reform of the European Court, often commenting on issues of particularly significant to our applicants or partner organisations. We have recently done this in relation to the Brussels Declaration (2015), the Copenhagen Declaration (2018) and the Court’s treatment of classified documents.
We collaborate on joint submissions to international bodies with other leading human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the AIRE Centre, Justice, the International Commission of Jurists, Liberty and Redress. The submissions are usually joint letters or reports, providing context or further evidence about human rights violations and calling upon international bodies to act, so that the issue remains in the spotlight and can be better addressed.
At the international level, we liaise with and provide information to bodies such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Procedures.
We meet diplomats regarding the countries that we focus on, briefing them on developments in our cases and the most pressing issues affecting our applicants and partner organisations.
We also use Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about our cases and the impact of our work on the people living in our target countries. You can sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates from us too.
Search the resource library to find the latest submissions, articles and actions taken in this area.