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Michele Nicoletti: ‘The Convention provides a solid legal foundation for European unity’

“As a constitutional instrument of the European public order, the Convention provides a solid legal foundation for European unity,” said PACE President Michele Nicoletti, speaking today at a conference in Copenhagen. He advocated the need for reaffirming the Court’s authority as “an independent decision-maker on all matters of interpretation and application of rights”. “The Convention system works because a single catalogue of rights is applied throughout Europe, and because a single, independent court is empowered to interpret those rights,” he said, underlining the importance of strengthening domestic implementation and execution of Court’s judgements.

Mr Nicoletti conceded that the universality of these rights and the supranational character of the Court needed to be balanced “with the respect for diversity and with the principle of subsidiarity”. However, he added, “there is a point beyond which change becomes incompatible with principle”.

The PACE President said that the reform process needed to be open and inclusive. “All Convention actors, including the Secretary General, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs, are important stakeholders in the reform process. Their perspectives must be taken into account, for the reform process to be truly effective,” he stressed.

The conference, entitled “Continued reform of the European Human Rights Convention System – Better Balance, Improved Protection”, organised on 12-13 April by the Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, aims to adopt a declaration which follows up on previous political declarations adopted in Interlaken, Izmir, Brighton and Brussels.

Participants include delegations from all 47 member States, including ministers from some European countries, as well as other key actors, such as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, and the Commissioner for Human Rights.