The President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Irish judge Síofra O’Leary (pictured), has called on member states to commit more resources to the court.
She was speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg to coincide with the publication of the court’s annual report.
Judge O’Leary said that every ambassador and minister that visited the court received the same message: “we need resources”.
“We need the case lawyers to deal with these cases,” she said, adding that inter-state cases – including those that involved Russia and Ukraine – were particularly resources-intensive.
Invasion of Ukraine
The report says that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year has had important legal consequences for the court.
Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe, and is no longer a party to the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ECtHR, however can still deal with applications against Russia linked to acts or omissions capable that occurred up to 16 September 2022.
The president noted that at the end of 2022 there were about 74,650 pending applications before the court – up from just over 70,000 at the end of 2021.
Almost three-quarters of the pending application at the end of last year concerned five countries: Türkiye, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Romania and Italy.
Almost 10,200 pending applications relate to conflicts between different member states.
Judge O’Leary described these as “complex cases requiring particular efforts, notably in terms of staff deployment”. The court has set up a dedicated unit to deal with these cases.
Since 2021, the ECtHR has adopted a strategy aimed at dealing more quickly with more important, legally complex, and sensitive cases, which are known as ‘impact’ cases.
“Some of these cases raise issues of considerable relevance for the state concerned, and for the convention system as a whole, such that it is vital to deal with them more expeditiously,” the president said.
From January 2021 to date, 551 ‘impact’ cases have been examined, with 187 of these applications resulting in a judgment.