The European Court of Human Rights has been in a constant state of reform since the permanent Court was established in Strasbourg in 1998. Its creation was a response to an increasing workload, a situation which has continued and worsened over the following 14 years. Protocol 14, which entered into force in February 2010, was intended to provide a more comprehensive solution to this problem. However, successive declarations issued by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in late 2010 and early 2011 indicated that Member States believe further change is necessary.
The United Kingdom, which took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in November 2011, has been a strong advocate for reform. The UK has expressed concern not only about the Court’s workload but its relationship to national courts.
The Brighton Declaration which marked the conclusion of a High-level Conference organised by the UK, includes a number of new measures but goes less far than early drafts had suggested.
Although many commentators are reserving judgment on the likely implications, NGOs have expressed regret at the failure to incentivise state compliance with the Court’s decisions. The Committee of Ministers is required to decide on the next steps in implementing the declarations by the end of 2012.