On the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights

The early days

The European Convention on Human Rights – more formally, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – was opened for signature on 4 November 1950 in Rome and the UK was among the first group of signatories. It was ratified and entered into force 70 years ago today, on 3 September 1953. The Convention’s principal authors were a Frenchman, a Belgian and a Scot: Pierre-Henri Teitgen, Fernand Dehousse and David Maxwell Fyfe (later Lord Chancellor Kilmuir).

As early as 1943, Winston Churchill had concluded that the post-war reconstruction of Europe could only be achieved if the nation-states were prepared to come together under some kind of supranational body with effective supervisory powers. In a radio broadcast in March of that year, he called for the foundation of a supranational European forum:

“… it is upon the creation of the Council of Europe and the settlement of Europe that the first practical task will be centred … In Europe lie most of the causes which have led to these two world wars. Continue reading