This guide provides legal research information for the Council of Europe (COE), its major human rights treaty (the European Convention on Human Rights), and its main judicial body (European Court of Human Rights).
This research guide does not cover the European Union or the European Communities. It also does not discuss other international human rights courts, tribunals, or judicial bodies. Information on those is in the HLSL International Courts and Tribunals research guide.
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was completed in Rome in 1950. It guarantees human rights protections to people in the Council of Europe's member nations.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is the judicial body of the Council of Europe. It hears cases on potential violations of civil or political rights protected by European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This court is comprised of judges from each of the 47 COE member states, and are elected to the court by the COE's Parliamentary Assembly. Each judge serves one non-renewable nine-year term.
Applications to the Court are examined on their admissibility and merits by a single Judge, a three-Judge Committee, or an entire Chamber.
If you have a citation to an ECtHR case, use these sources to locate the Court's opinion.
The Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights covers the work of both the ECtHR and the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. It includes a full listing of Court judgments, broken down by subject-matter, as well as summaries of key judgments handed down by the Court during the year.
In the current (20th) edition of the Bluebook, citation instructions for ECtHR cases are under rule 21.5.3 (page 210).
For all ECtHR cases, the Bluebook's preference is to cite a print reporter, in this order:
Assume that you want to cite the 2008 ECtHR case of Kovach v. Ukraine, no. 39424/02.
You found the text of this case in the Council of Europe's HUDOC database:
You've clicked all of the tabs and looked at all of the versions on the website. The only information that you have is that the "Importance Level" of this case is "Case Reports":
This indicator means that it was reported in the European Court of Human Rights, Reports of Judgments and Decisions.
So, for Bluebook purposes, you are left with this:
Kovach v. Ukraine, 2008-__ Eur. Ct. H.R. ___.
Unfortunately, the Bluebook will not just let you cite the Internet version and be done with it. You have to check the 2008 Reports of Judgments and Decisions to get the volume and page number. Eventually, you will find that this case was reported in 2008-I, starting on page 179. Now you can finish the Bluebook citation:
Kovach v. Ukraine, 2008-I Eur. Ct. H.R. 179.
If the case you are citing was not published in the Reports of Judgments and Decisions, you should also check the European Human Rights Reports. This is a different publication even though the names sound similar.
There are a few other reporters that you can also check, especially if your case is older:
At this point, if you cannot find your case reported in print anywhere, you can cite the electronic HUDOC version.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is comprised of elected parliamentarians from the Council of Europe's 47 member states.
PACE, which represents the European people rather than European governments, meets four times per year. It develops initiatives monitors human rights protections in the member states.
PACE also elects the Council of Europe's officials and the judges of the European Court of Human Rights.
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