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European human rights system; European Convention on Human Rights; European Court of Human Rights

On November 4, 1950, the Council of Europe agreed to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (see European Convention on Human Rights). A significant streamlining of the European human rights regime took place on November 1, 1998, when Protocol No. 11 to the convention entered into force. Pursuant to the protocol, two of the enforcement mechanisms created by the convention were merged into a reconstituted court (see European Court of Human Rights). A companion instrument to the European Convention—similar to but preceding the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights—is the European Social Charter (1961) and its additional protocol (1988). In contrast to the adjudicatory enforcement procedures of the European Convention, the charter’s provisions are implemented through an elaborate system of control based on progress reports to the various committees and organs of the Council of Europe. In July 1996 the Revised Social Charter, which modernizes its forebear’s substantive provisions and strengthens its enforcement capabilities, entered into force. Both charters have suffered from a notable lack of public awareness, however, and this fact, together with an increased emphasis on market-oriented economic policies in many European countries, threatens not only the ratification of the 1996 charter but, as well, the political commitment to the several and joint aims of each treaty. *Excerpts from Burns H. Weton’s article (Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law; Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City. Coauthor of Human Rights in the World Community and others). Important info: Stavros Lambrinidis has been appointed first EU Special Representative for Human Rights Mr Lambrinidis has taken office since 1 September, 2012 with an initial mandate running until 30 June, 2014. His role is to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of EU human rights policy.

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