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The Evolution of the European Convention on Human RightsFrom Its Inception to the Creation of a Permanent Court of Human Rights$
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Ed Bates

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207992

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207992.001.0001

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An Overview of the Convention’s Evolution from the 1950s to the Early 1970s

An Overview of the Convention’s Evolution from the 1950s to the Early 1970s

(p.171) 6 An Overview of the Convention’s Evolution from the 1950s to the Early 1970s
The Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights

Ed Bates

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the early history of the Convention, focusing as it does on the situation of the Strasbourg institutions in the 1950s, 1960s, and up to the early 1970s. It starts by discussing the period up until 1965, when, it seems, there seemed little hope that the Convention system would flourish. The chapter includes an in-depth analysis of the importance of the early case law: Greece v United Kingdom; Lawless v Ireland; De Becker v Belgium, and the ‘Belgian Linguistics’ case. With these cases the Strasbourg institutions revealed their potential to become, in effect, quasi-constitutional bodies. The chapter examines the background to the United Kingdom's decision to accept the Convention's optional clauses in 1966, and then it addresses some of the most important case law that arose after that, most notably the ‘East African Asians’ case. The Court's case law in the late 1960s and early 1970s is also considered for its significance. The concluding section reflects upon the importance of these early years, in that they set the foundations to the subsequent evolution of the Convention. It suggests that by the early 1970s there was a mood developing, manifested in various statements made by outside commentators, that it was time for the Strasbourg institutions to take a more activist approach to their functions. The last section of the chapter discusses the significance of the two best known ‘inter-state’ cases from this period: the ‘Greek’ case and Ireland v United Kingdom.

Keywords:   ECHR, Strasbourg institutions, European Commission of Human Rights, Greece v United Kingdom, Lawless v Ireland, De Becker v Belgium, Belgian Linguistics case, East African Asians case, United Kingdom, Greek case

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