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European Human Rights Legal Research: Getting Started

A guide to the Council of Europe documents, Convention materials, and the European Court of Human Rights.

Research Guides

Start here for an overview of important resources in European Human Rights law. Research guides are useful in starting research because they identify and describe important primary and secondary authority and indicate useful research strategies and tips. 

Introduction

The Council of Europe, created in 1949, is a regional human rights organization consisting of 47 member states. Based in Strasbourg, France, the primary purpose of the Council is to to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law throughout the European Continent. The Council of Europe’s wide range of initiatives often take the form of treaties and protocols designed to bring member states’ laws into closer harmony with one another and with the Council’s standards. There are 200 at present. The best known of these is the European Convention on Human Rights, 312 UNTS 221, which outlines fundamental civil and political rights and freedoms that member states are obliged to guarantee to all individuals within their jurisdiction. The Convention was signed in 1950 and entered into force in 1953.  Established in 1959, the European Court of Human Rights is the judicial organ of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has jurisdiction to rule on individual or State complaints alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the Convention. 

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