chapter  5
1 Pages

International Citizens’ Advocacy Groups

The most successful regional regime for human rights has occurred in Europe. In 1950, the Council of Europe promulgated the European Convention on Human Rights that was unique in combining provisions of the Universal Declaration with trial procedures of the common law. Furthermore, it established a Commission that could refer cases for final decision to a European Court sitting in Strasbourg. State signatories had a duty, in the event of adverse judgments, to bring their laws into conformity with the Convention. Most significantly, Article 25 enabled “any person, non-governmental organization, or group” to petition the Commission alleging a violation of their rights. Consequently, in ratifying the European Convention in 1953, states parties agreed to allow their citizens to bring them, or their laws and court decisions, before the bar of international justice. The European Court is recognized for the quality of its well-reasoned decisions, and it now adjudicates the interpretation of human rights standards for 41 countries, thereby building a body of specific and positive human rights law. It has become a constitutional court for almost the entire continent, and a model for a future world court.