Council of Europe (Regional)

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Alongside the UN human rights system, there is also a regional human rights system that applies to all Council of Europe Member States. This system includes a range of human rights treaties the UK has ratified as well as accountability mechanisms, the most prominent being the European Court of Human Rights.

What is the Council of Europe?

The Council of Europe is Europe’s leading human rights organisation. It was founded by the UK and nine other States after World War II to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe. It is a separate body from the EU and includes 47 Member States.


  • European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The principal human rights treaty of the CoE is the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects civil and political rights. All CoE Member States have ratified the ECHR.

  • The European Social Charter (ESC)

The ESC protects economic, social and cultural rights and represents the other core human rights convention in Europe.

  • The European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights oversees the implementation of the Convention in the Member States. Individuals can bring complaints of human rights violations to the Court once all possibilities of appeal have been exhausted in the member state concerned. The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) is the body responsible for monitoring compliance with the Social Charter. In addition, the CoE has established two political bodies that complement the oversight work of the European Court of Human Rights in achieving the goals of the CoE.