The European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was drawn up within the Council of Europe. It was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950 and entered into force in September 1953. Taking as their starting point the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the framers of the Convention sought to pursue the aims of the Council of Europe through the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Convention was to represent the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration. In addition to laying down a catalogue of civil and political rights and freedoms, the Convention set up a mechanism for the enforcement of the obligations entered into by Contracting States. Three institutions were entrusted with this responsibility: the European Commission of Human Rights (set up in 1954), the European Court of Human Rights (set up in 1959) and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the latter organ being composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member States or their representatives. Under the Convention in its original version, complaints could be brought against Contracting States either by other Contracting States or by individual applicants (individuals, groups of individuals or non-governmental organisations). Recognition of the right of individual application was, however, optional and it could therefore be exercised only against those States which had accepted it (Protocol No. 11 to the Convention was subsequently to make its acceptance compulsory). The complaints were first the subject of a preliminary examination by the Commission, which determined their admissibility. Where an application was declared admissible, the Commission placed itself at the parties' disposal with a view to brokering a friendly settlement. If no settlement was forthcoming, it drew up a report establishing the facts and expressing an opinion on the merits of the case. The report was transmitted to the Committee of Ministers. Where the respondent State had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court, the Commission and/or any Contracting State concerned had a period of three months following the transmission of the report to the Committee of Ministers within which to bring the case before the Court for a final, binding
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