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How parliaments can press governments to uphold human rights: new ‘online video toolkit’

An online video “toolkit” and training resource on the role of national parliaments in upholding the European Convention on Human Rights, and implementing judgments of the Strasbourg Court, is to be made available to parliamentary staff across Europe.

The kit has been put together by PACE’s Parliamentary Projects Support Division as part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”, a joint initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe. It features presentations from Court officials and other Council of Europe experts, independent academics and NGOs involved in defending human rights, as well as parliamentary staff who share their experience of pressing governments to uphold Convention standards.

Topics covered include the core principles of the Convention and its case-law, how parliaments can scrutinise draft legislation for its “Convention-compatibility”, and how they can encourage the executive to implement adverse rulings of the Strasbourg Court.

The advantages of learning from the problems faced by other States, as well as the benefits of engaging with and hearing evidence from civil society organisations and academia on upholding European human rights standards, are also covered.

The toolkit grew out of a recording of a July 2020 webinar originally organised for staff of the Parliament of Serbia and is now being made available to a wider audience.

Participants include Dr Alice Donald, Senior Lecturer and Joint Chair of Ethics at Middlesex University’s School of Law; Katherine Hill, Committee Specialist in the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament; and George Stafford, Director of the European Implementation Network, a grouping of NGOs working to uphold Convention standards.

Staff from the secretariat of PACE, the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe’s Department for the Execution of Judgments and the HELP programme also contribute.

“This toolkit was prepared within the action on “PACE co-operation with Parliaments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia, with a view to achieving legislative improvements”, which is a part of the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme“Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.”