Paris – ESI at Council of Europe hearing on the execution of European Court of Human Rights judgments

8 September 2023
Gerald at the Council of Europe

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to a hearing at the Council of Europe on the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Gerald spoke about the court’s current crisis which has allowed states such as Russia or Azerbaijan to pay a modest “crime tax”, and then continue to violate human rights. Gerald added that some member states ignore the court almost completely and more than 50 percent of leading judgements in the past ten years have not been implemented.

Gerald underlined the importance of the court as the oldest human rights court in the world, established after the Second World War to defend human rights and democracy against authoritarian threats. However, this system failed to prevent serious violations by Russia, culminating in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Past warnings about the dangers posed by Russia went unheeded. Despite its treaty obligations, Russia did not comply with the court’s judgments, as evidenced by cases like Alexei Navalny’s. Russia’s membership and participation should have been suspended earlier under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This only happened after the Russian aggression against Ukraine had started.

Going forward, the lesson from Russia is clear: suspension of non-compliant states should not be feared, it is essential to the system. Closure of leading non-implementation cases could become a condition for EU accession and visa liberalisation.

Gerald said it was essential to remind member states and the public of the unique role of the Council of Europe: collective security through human rights. Compliance goals and timelines should be set. Making progress a condition for EU benefits could incentivise states. This way both the Court and the Council would defend human rights with real teeth.

Gerald gave his testimony together with Philip Leach, professor of human rights law at Middlesex University and director of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.