Skip to main content


Subjects: Law

Texts on topic

Council of Europe and human rights

The Council of Europe was established in 1948.  Article 3 of the Statute of Council states that members should undertake to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Under the Council two major human rights instruments were made.  The European Convention of  Human Rights (full title being Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and The European Social Charter.  The ECHR, particularly article 8, the right to respect for private and family life, and article 12, prohibition of discrimination, have led to cases on LGBT rights.The Council website has information about itself and its activities as well as the text of Council of Europe treaties via its Treaty Office.

The European Court of Human Rights was established by the Council of Europe in 1959 to hear cases against member nations in relation to possible breaches of human rights under the Convention.  The website has information and basic text relating to the court.  Between 1959 and 1998 The European Commission of Human Rights existed to hear potential cases and if they were well founded the case would then proceed on to the Court.  These are often known as either 'admissability decisions' or 'decisions and reports' and a selection are reported up to 1998 in a printed series called the European Commission of Human Rights Decisions and Reports (abbreviated to D.R.).  In 1998 the Court started to sit as a full time Court (under Protocol 11) and so now makes admissability decisions within its own system.

HUDOC (judgments and decisions of the ECHR) is a database of judgments from the European Court of Human rights. It also includes admissibility decisions, opinions and reports.  The site can be searched by party name, application number, subject or you can search the database for cases relating to specific articles of the Convention.

The collection in the Bodleian Law Library is contained mainly within the International Section but some of these publications will also be available online.  

For more information on human rights law at the Law Bod see our libguide: Human Rights Law


Reports and Law Journals Online

All the judgments and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights – whether published in the official series or not –  are freely available via HUDOC. If your citation is to the EHRR or BHRC then you will need to use a subscrption database.