The European Court of Human Rights: Achievements and Prospects

  • Philip Leach
Living reference work entry
Part of the International Human Rights book series (IHR)


This chapter discusses and analyses the origins, workings, and future prospects of the most significant human rights mechanism that Europe has seen – the European Court of Human Rights. Created by European governments in the immediate aftermath of the atrocities experienced during World War II, over the ensuing decades, the Court has laid down a remarkably comprehensive set of standards for states in upholding core civil and political rights, notably the right to a fair trial, the prohibition of torture, and the right to freedom of expression. As state accession to the Council of Europe increased following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Court has been faced with increasing numbers of large-scale systemic cases which have necessitated changes in its practice and procedure and a more creative, incisive approach to providing redress. The Court has succeeded in setting credible standards for the continent (and beyond) but has been weighed down with a huge back load of cases for several decades. Within a regional polity that has become less receptive and indeed increasingly hostile, toward the very concept of human rights, the future challenges for the Court are to maintain its independence, its legitimacy, and its potency as a safety net for victims of human rights violations across the continent.


European Court of Human Rights Council of Europe European Convention on Human Rights Jurisprudence Redress Implementation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of Human Rights Law; Director, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC)Middlesex UniversityLondonUK

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