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European Convention on Human Rights

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European Convention on Human Rights

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950 and came into force on 3 September 1953. It was the first instrument to give effect to certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and make them binding.

Under the original system, three institutions were responsible for enforcing the obligations undertaken by the Contracting States: the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. All applications lodged under the Convention by individual applicants and Contracting States were the subject of a preliminary examination by the Commission, which decided whether they were admissible. If a complaint was declared admissible, and where no friendly settlement was reached, the Commission drew up a report establishing the facts and expressing a nonbinding opinion on the merits of the case. The Commission and/or the Government of the State in question could then decide to refer the case to the Court for a final, binding adjudication. If the case was not brought before the Court, the Committee of Ministers would decide.