"There will be no peace in our world without an understanding of the place of religion within it." — Tony Blair
This site is dedicated to reporting and commenting upon issues involving freedom of conscience, religion, or belief throughout the member states of the Council of Europe, with particular focus on the work of the European Court of Human Rights and its predecessor tribunal, the European Commission of Human Rights. We are working to make this site the definitive source of information for scholars and others interested in understanding and having some influence upon the work of the Court in this vital area. Since the decisions on the important issues pending before the Court will shape the basic contours of freedom of religion or belief for years to come, not only throughout Europe, but throughout the world as the Court and its opinions become increasingly influential, the kind of work envisioned by, and carried out by, the Strasbourg Consortium is particularly critical.
We welcome you to our site, and encourage you to investigate its possibilities to determine how it may serve you, and how you might contribute to its success.
4-5 December 2013. Second International Religious Freedom Conference, "Tearing Down Walls: Achieving Religious Equality in Turkey", sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, held in Berlin, Germany.
13-14 December 2013. Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University [This event will take place at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome, Italy] rsvp required
Bogdan Vodă Greek-Catholic Parish v. Romania (no. 26270/04) – Chamber Judgment 19 November 2013. From the Court's Press Release: The applicant is the Bogdan Vodă Greek-Catholic Parish, which belongs to the Maramureş Greek-Catholic Diocese United with Rome and is located in the village of Bogdan Vodă, Romania. The case concerned a dispute between two Christian religious groups in Bogdan Vodă, namely the Greek-Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The Greek-Catholic Parish complained in particular about the non-enforcement of a judgment awarded by a Romanian court in its favour in... more
Vallianatos and Others v. Greece (nos. 29381/09 and 32684/09) – Grand Chamber Judgment 7 November 2013. The case concerns "civil unions" introduced by Law no. 3719/2008, called "Reforms concerning the family, children and society". This Law made provision for an official form of partnership, allowing the persons concerned to register their relationship within a more flexible legal framework than that provided by marriage. The applicants complain that this Law provides for civil unions only for different-sex couples, thus automatically excluding same-sex couples from its scope of application. In its judgment of 7 November, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken together with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. [Court Press Release]
The commemorative ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe took place at the Palais des Congrès in Strasbourg on 1 October.
The ceremony was marked by speeches delivered by Council of Europe leaders and prominent European figures, including Mikhaïl Gorbachev, Former President of the USSR, and José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission. Video messages from former Czech President Vaclav Havel and the astronaut of the European Space Agency Frank De Winne were screened. The Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht... more
Dean Spielmann, Judge elected on behalf of Luxembourg, assumed his term of office as President on the Court on on 1 November 2012, succeeding Sir Nicolas Bratza of the United Kingdom. Judge Spielmann has been a judge at the Court since 2004, was Section President beginning in 2011, and Vice-President from summer 2012 until he assumed the presidency.
Judge Spielmann holds Bachelor's Law Degree Catholic University of Louvain (1988) and a Master of Laws from Cambridge University (1990). He has been Barrister and Senior Barrister (Luxembourg), partner in a law firm, University lecturer, member of the Advisory Human Rights Commission, Luxembourg and the European Union Network of Independent Experts in Fundamental Rights, and is full member of the Institut Grand-Ducal.
Josep Casadevall, elected in respect of Andorra in 1996, continues to serve as Vice-President of the Court, a position he has held since November 2011. He... more
AFP (31.01.2013) - The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled Thursday in favour of three sects - including the Mandarom de Castellane - bringing a judgement against France for violation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The decision in Strasbourg invalidated tax procedures brought against the sects, ordering France to pay 3 599 551 euros to the religious association Temple Pyramide, a sect known by the name Mandarom, for "property damage", 387 722 euros to the Evangelical Missionary Church and Eric Salaûn and 36 886 euros to the Chevaliers... more
Asserting that the "right to manifest religion at work is protected but must be balanced against rights of others", the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in the consolidated cases Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom (nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10). In its ruling of 15 January 2013, the Court held
- by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned Ms Eweida
The Court held its annual press conference on 24 January 2013. On this occasion, Dean Spielmann, the President of the Court, reviewed the Court’s activities in 2012, which he described as an exceptional year for the Court, and presented its annual report.
Videos showing how to use the simple and advanced search functions of the new HUDOC database have been published by the European Court of Human Rights, in both English and French. To access the videos, click the links below:
4 September 2012. WEBCAST of the HEARING. The Court held a Chamber hearing in the cases of Chaplin v. the United Kingdom, Eweida v. the United Kingdom, Ladele v. the United Kingdom and McFarlane v. the United Kingdom. The applicants, four practising Christians, complained that domestic law failed to adequately protect their right to manifest their religion.
See discussion of the cases in the press, below:
Britons take workplace religion fight to Europe rights court (MoneyControl.com - Reuters, Paris)
The European Centre for Law and Justice organized a seminar on the recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and of the USA Supreme Court on Church autonomy, in cooperation with the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Européennes: Religion et Société (Bruxelles - CERERS), the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) and the Strasbourg Consortium on Freedom of Conscience and Religion at the European Court of Human Rights. ... more
Organised by the United Kingdom in the context of its Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights took place in Brighton, UK, on 19-20 April 2012. The Conference aimed to achieve agreement on a political declaration on a package of reforms of the Court, between Ministers of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe.
At previous High-Level conferences held in Interlaken (2010) and Izmir (2011), the member States of the Council of Europe, while recognising the extraordinary contribution of the Court to the protection of human rights in Europe, agreed unanimously that reform of the Court is needed in order to... more
The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion was introduced to the Oxford Journals collection in early 2012. The first issue appeared in print on 1 April 2012, followed by the second issue on 1 October. These issues, along with advance access to the third issue, are available free of charge on the Journal's website.
The new journal was developed "in response to the recent proliferation of research and writing on the interaction of law and religion cutting across many disciplines." The launch of the Journal was marked by Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Colloquium, hosted by the Religion and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture and held 19 April 2012 at Regent's Park College, Oxford, UK.... more
Three new handbooks have just been published by the Justice and Legal Co-operation Department for the attention of legal professionals who wish to deepen their knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights. They focus on the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for private and family life and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
These handbooks have been conceived as practical tools to support judges and prosecutors to apply the Convention at national level and assist lawyers to use Convention-based arguments in national litigation. They are based on the most updated case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The authors include an academic, a national... more
Uploaded by European Court of Human Rights on 9 February 2012
The "Conscience of Europe", which is currently available in 25 languages, is a film about the Court. This documentary, intended for the general public, shows specific examples of cases examined by the Court and considers its prospects over the forthcoming years and the challenges facing it.
The Court's judicial year was formally opened on Friday 27 January 2012. Some 200 leading judicial figures from across Europe were invited to participate in a seminar on the topic "How to ensure greater involvement of national courts in the Convention system?"
The Court held its annual press conference on Thursday 26 January 2012. On this occasion, Nicolas Bratza, the President of the Court, presented a summary of the Court's activities and its statistics for 2011. He said that the European governments must assume their part of the shared responsibility for the protection of human rights across the continent. In connection with this press conference, the Court released its Annual Report 2011 and 2011 Facts and Figures. On 27 January the... more
The European Court of Human Rights has compiled two series of factsheets providing information about its case law, including pending cases. A series of "country profiles" provides wide-ranging State-specific information for each the forty-seven European countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, touching upon the human rights issues dealt with by the Court for each State. A compilation of "Stastistics on judgments by State" is also available, offering charts showing the subject matter of judgments for each State. In addition, a series thematic factsheets summarizes the Court's case work by topic. It is hoped that these resources will help make the Court's work and case-law better known and more accessible.
The European Court of Human Rights has produced and made available on its website several helpful manuals and reports, including the following:
- The Court in Brief
- Country Fact Sheets 1959-2010
- The European Court of Human Rights in Facts and Figures 2010
- Text of the European Convention on Human Rights in the languages of participating states
- "Who can bring a case to the Court?"
- "What are the conditions of admissibility?"
- "What is the difference between a Chamber and a Section?"
- "Do judges sit in cases concerning their own country?"
- "Can the Court's composition vary from one case to another?"
- "When does a Grand Chamber hear a case?"
- "What are the different stages of proceedings before the Court?"
- "What is a pilot case?"
- "How are the Court's judgments enforced"?
To answer such questions, the European Court of Human Rights has produced the online handbook The ECHR in 50 Questions. Some answers are better suited to scholars of and practitioners before the Court than to casual readers, but the publication is helpful for anyone concerned with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and with the Court (also ECHR, or, to avoid confusion, ECtHR).