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European Court of Human Rights: Fiftieth Anniversary

(Feb. 5, 2009) The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), located in Strasbourg, France, reaches a milestone this year, as it celebrates fifty years since its establishment in 1959. The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which laid the foundation for the correct application and implementation of its provisions by the ECHR, was adopted in 1950 and entered into force in 1953.

On January 1, 2009, the President of the ECHR, Jean-Paul Costa, urged the Member States of the Council of Europe to continue their support and commitment to the implementation of human rights within their jurisdictions. The President stressed that the present workload of the ECHR is tremendous – approximately 100,000 cases are currently pending – and expressed his optimism that, despite the stalemate over current reform proposals, a positive outcome would be reached to ensure the continuity and efficiency of the ECHR system. The President stated that the country with the most judgments was Turkey, with 257 judgments in which at least one violation of the Convention provisions was found, followed by Russia with 233, Romania 189, and Ukraine 110. (Press Release, ECHR, Press Conference with the President of the European Court of Human Rights (Jan. 29, 2009), available at

The Annual Report released by the ECHR in January 2009 contains some interesting statistics. In 2007 and 2008, the ECHR received 41,650 and 49,850 applications, respectively. The ECHR declared1,626 applications in 2007 and 1,671 in 2008 to be admissible. It disposed of 28,794 applications, by decision or judgment, in 2007 and 32,044 in 2008.

As of December 2008, the respondent country with the most cases pending and allocated to a chamber or a committee is Russia, with 27,246. Other countries with numerous cases pending include Turkey, with 11,085; Romania, with 8,901; Ukraine, with 8,270; Italy, with 4,191; and Poland, with 3,516. The respondent country with the least number of cases is San Marino, with 1, followed by Andorra, with 3, and Liechtenstein and Monaco, with 8 each. (ECHR ANNUAL REPORT 2008 (Provisional Edition) (Jan. 2009), available at