A convention, originally formulated in 1950, aimed at protecting the human rights of all people in the member states of the Council of Europe. Part 1 of the Convention, together with a number of subsequent protocols, define the freedoms that each signatory state must guarantee to all within its jurisdiction, although states may derogate from the Convention in respect of particular activities (see derogation). The Convention established a Commission on Human Rights (now abolished) and a Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Court may hear complaints (known as petitions) by one state against another. It may also hear complaints by an individual, group, or nongovernmental organization claiming to be a victim of a breach of the Convention. The Court cannot deal with any complaint, however, unless the applicant has first tried remedies in the national courts. All complaints must be made not later than six months from the date on which the decision against the applicant was made in the national courts. The Court will only investigate a complaint if it is judged to fulfil various conditions that make it admissible. The Court has power to make a final ruling, which is binding on the parties, and in some cases to award compensation.
Despite the fact that the UK took perhaps the most significant part in writing and inspiring the Convention, and was the first to sign and to ratify it, the Convention articles only came into force in the UK on 2 October 2000. This followed the entry into force of the Human Rights Act1998.