Protocol 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights

On the opening of Protocol 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, JUSTICE and the International Commission of Jurists, together with other national and international NGOs urged the Contracting Parties to take steps to ensure that the changes in the Protocol would not result in weaker protection for individual rights across Europe.

Principally, the Protocol gives effect to the commitment in the Brighton Declaration on the future of the European Court of Human Rights to amend the preamble of the Convention to include reference to the ‘margin of appreciation’, a principle of interpretation adopted by the Court since its earliest jurisprudence.  We regret that any amendment was thought justified, but welcome the affirmation in the Protocol of the supervisory role of the Court.  While the margin of appreciation is designed to ensure that the Strasbourg Court – as an international body – does not replace the first obligation of the member states to secure the effective implementation of the Convention, this is only one of many interpretative principles adopted by the Court.  It retains an important judicial function in setting an authoritative interpretation of the Convention and the minimum standards and principles without which the fundamental essence of the rights protected by the Convention would be disturbed.