European Court of Human Rights Celebrates Fifty Years of Growth

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The European Court of Human Rights was established in 1959 to protect civil and political rights when the horrors of previous decades were still fresh in Europe's mind. The aim was to provide a basis of trust and solidarity to burgeoning European unification and provide a safeguard against any erosion of human beings' basic rights and dignity.

It proved so successful that since its inception, the court has seen its case load brought by individuals, organizations and nations grow to some 100,000 cases from 46 countries.

These days, in fact, the court faces a serious backlog. Critics argue that it has become a victim of its own success -- a result of the growing number of states subject to its jurisdiction, a good reputation, expansive interpretations of individual liberties, distrust of domestic judiciaries in some countries and entrenched human rights problems in others.

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