The ECHR is an interesting court. It is not an appeal court above national or even European institutes, as one might think. It is not part of the European Union, but an institute of the Council of Europe, of which 47 countries are member. It’s goal is to spread democracy and human rights.

The court only adheres to one single “law”, the The European Convention on Human Rights. The convention states ethical and human rights guidelines. Every citizen of the member states can individually appeal on this convention, first at the national courts, but appealing all the way up to the ECHR in Strassbourg (which is located in North-Eastern France). In fact the only defendant is ones own country.

The ECHR has a backlog of about 80.000 cases. A serious restructuring has to be done, but Russia is the only country blocking that. It is believed this is the result of convictions by the ECHR in several cases revolving issues in Chechen (Tsjetsjen).

(…) Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948;

Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared;

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is the achievement of greater unity between its members and that one of the methods by which that aim is to be pursued is the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Reaffirming their profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend;

Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration, (…)