Advisory Services

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) stands as a cornerstone in the protection of human rights in Europe. Enforced since 1953, the Convention has transformed the landscape of human rights across the continent. Yet, the ECHR is not a self-executing document; it relies on an intricate system of enforcement and advisory services to ensure its principles are upheld. In this article, we will delve into the realm of European Convention on Human Rights Advisory Services, exploring their crucial role in safeguarding human rights in Europe.

The European Convention on Human Rights: A Brief Overview

The ECHR, established in 1950 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, consists of a set of rights and fundamental freedoms to which all member states must adhere. These rights include the right to life, freedom from torture, freedom of expression, and many others. Signatory states to the Convention pledge to respect and protect these fundamental rights and freedoms.

However, to ensure compliance and provide a mechanism for individuals to seek redress for violations, the ECHR established a range of advisory services and institutions. These mechanisms are designed to assist individuals, states, and the Court in interpreting and applying the Convention effectively. Contact our ECHR lawyers to get legal help with different issues with ECHR.

Advisory Services in Action

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

The European Court of Human Rights is the primary judicial body responsible for adjudicating individual applications and allegations of human rights violations. While not strictly an “advisory” body, its jurisprudence plays a vital role in interpreting the Convention and providing guidance on its implementation. The Court issues binding judgments that set legal precedents, and these decisions influence the development of human rights law across Europe.

Advisory Opinions from the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers may request advisory opinions from the ECtHR on questions of interpretation or application of the Convention. These opinions assist states in understanding their obligations under the Convention and guide them in amending domestic laws and practices to align with human rights standards.

The Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe responsible for promoting and protecting human rights across the member states. While the Commissioner does not have binding legal authority, they play a vital advisory role by providing recommendations, conducting fact-finding missions, and issuing reports highlighting human rights concerns.

National Human Rights Institutions

Many member states have established National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) tasked with monitoring, promoting, and protecting human rights at the national level. NHRIs often serve as advisory bodies, offering guidance to governments on how to bring their practices and legislation in line with ECHR standards.

Legal Aid and Assistance Programs

Numerous organizations and NGOs provide legal aid and assistance to individuals seeking to bring human rights cases before the ECtHR. These organizations help potential applicants navigate the complex legal process, ensuring their cases meet the necessary requirements and have the best chance of success.

Advisory Services in Practice

The impact of European Convention on Human Rights Advisory Services is profound. Here are some key ways in which these services make a difference:

Promoting Human Rights Education

Advisory services engage in educational initiatives to enhance public awareness of human rights. They offer training, seminars, and educational materials to help individuals and institutions understand their rights and responsibilities under the Convention.

Assisting States in Legal Reforms

Member states often seek guidance from advisory services when amending domestic legislation or practices to align with ECHR standards. This assistance ensures that national laws and policies are in harmony with international human rights norms.

Raising Awareness of Human Rights Violations

Advisory services, such as the Commissioner for Human Rights, regularly release reports and recommendations that shed light on human rights abuses and systemic issues within member states. These reports can serve as a catalyst for change by prompting governments to address shortcomings.

Empowering Individuals

Legal aid programs supported by advisory services empower individuals to seek justice for human rights violations. By providing legal guidance and assistance, these programs enable victims to access the ECtHR and hold states accountable for their actions.

Influencing Policy Development

Advisory services play a crucial role in shaping the development of human rights policies within member states. Through consultations, recommendations, and expert opinions, these services help governments devise and implement policies that respect human rights.

Challenges and Future Perspectives

While European Convention on Human Rights Advisory Services have made significant strides in promoting and protecting human rights, they face several challenges:

  1. Backlogs and Delays: The ECtHR has faced backlogs of cases, resulting in delays in adjudicating human rights violations. This backlog challenges the effective enforcement of human rights.
  2. Resource Constraints: Advisory services often operate with limited resources, hindering their ability to carry out comprehensive monitoring and advocacy efforts.
  3. Non-Compliance: Some member states struggle to fully implement the Court’s decisions and recommendations, leading to ongoing human rights concerns.
  4. Evolving Human Rights Issues: New and emerging human rights challenges, such as those in the digital realm, require advisory services to adapt and address evolving threats.

Despite these challenges, European Convention on Human Rights Advisory Services remain essential pillars of the Convention’s effectiveness. As human rights evolve and face new challenges, these services continue to play a vital role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of individuals across Europe.

The European Convention on Human Rights Advisory Services serve as a critical component of the Convention’s framework for protecting and promoting human rights. They provide guidance, assistance, and expertise to member states, individuals, and the Court itself, ensuring that human rights standards are upheld and that violations are addressed. As Europe faces ongoing human rights challenges, these advisory services remain indispensable in the pursuit of justice, equality, and the protection of fundamental rights.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.


Who can request advisory opinions and what can they concern?
The highest national courts or tribunals of a High Contracting Party possess the authority to petition the Court for an advisory opinion. These petitions typically pertain to fundamental questions concerning the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms outlined in the Convention or its protocols. Importantly, such requests can only be made within the context of a specific case that is currently under consideration by the requesting court or tribunal. To initiate the procedure, the requesting body must provide the Court with a well-structured rationale for its request, along with all the pertinent legal and factual details related to the ongoing case.
How does the procedure work?
  1. Request Initiation: One of the highest courts or tribunals, as designated by the High Contracting Party during the ratification of Protocol No. 16, submits a formal request to the Court, seeking an advisory opinion in connection with a case that is presently before it.
  2. Review by a Five-Judge Panel: A specially convened panel consisting of five judges from the Grand Chamber is tasked with assessing the merit of the request. This panel evaluates the significance and relevance of the questions raised in the request. They subsequently decide whether to accept or decline the request for an advisory opinion.
  3. Reasons for Refusal: If the panel opts to refuse the request, it is obligated to provide clear and substantiated reasons for its decision.
This procedure ensures that advisory opinions are sought within a well-defined legal framework and are only issued in cases where the questions raised are of substantial importance and relevance to the ongoing legal proceedings.
How is the advisory opinion delivered?
The advisory opinion is provided by the Grand Chamber, accompanied by an explanation. In cases where unanimity is not reached, any judge has the option to present an individual opinion. Subsequently, the advisory opinion is transmitted to both the requesting court or tribunal and the High Contracting Party associated with that court or tribunal. Additionally, it is made accessible to the public through the Court's HUDOC website. It's essential to note that advisory opinions, while informative and authoritative, do not carry binding legal force.