The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950 and came into force in 1953. It was the first instrument to give effect to certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and make them binding.
The importance of the Convention lies not only in the scope of the fundamental rights it protects, but also in the protection mechanism established in Strasbourg to examine alleged violations and ensure compliance by the States with their undertakings under the Convention. Accordingly, in 1959, the European Court of Human Rights was set up.
In the system as first set up, three institutions were given the task of ensuring compliance with the undertakings given by the Contracting States: the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. With the entry into force of Protocol No. 11 on 1 November 1998 the first two institutions were merged into a single Court, to which individual or State applications can be directly made alleging violations of the civil and political rights set forth in the Convention.
Since its adoption in 1950 the Convention has been amended a number of times and supplemented with many rights in addition to those set forth in the original text.