Word of the Day

the ECHR

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the European Convention on Human Rights: a treaty from 1953 that protects the rights and fundamental freedoms of people in Europe

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The European Convention on Human Rights or ECHR is the name of the treaty that protects the human rights of European citizens.


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, which was drawn up in 1950 although it did not enter into force until 1953. The Convention was opened for signature in November 1950, when it was signed by the first 12 member states; the date of May 5th was chosen to celebrate it because it is the Council of Europe‘s designated Europe Day. The ECHR grew out of a desire to codify and protect human rights in the aftermath of World War 2 and the preparatory work was done in the Congress of Europe which was held in the Hague and attended by political leaders, trade unionists, academics and representatives of civil society. The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights (often called the ECtHR), a court based in Strasbourg that hears cases brought under the Convention. All member states of the Council of Europe are parties to the Convention and are bound by the judgments of the Court. The ECHR is one of many bodies that have two entries in Macmillan Dictionary, one at the full name and the other at the initialism. Other examples are the TUC/Trades Union Congress and the ECJ/European Court of Justice.


“The European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 (less than two years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), remains the first instrument to have given practical and binding effect to the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration.”
(Dean Spielmann, former President of the European Court of Human Rights)

Related words

accession, accord, protocol, ratify, treaty

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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