December 01
Dolores Utrilla
29th October 2020
Human Rights Justice & Litigation

ECtHR: States not party to the European Convention on Human Rights cannot bring cases before the ECtHR

Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) declared the application in Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium (no. 16554/19) inadmissible, recalling that under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) only High Contracting Parties, private persons, groups of individuals or nongovernmental organisations are entitled to bring a case before it, under Articles 33 (inter-State cases) and 34 (individual applications).

The complaint, brought before the ECtHR by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is not a party to the ECHR, concerned the reasoning given in judgments of Belgian courts in cases concerning  the DRC as a minority shareholder of a mining company to which the relevant judicial proceedings referred. Belgian courts refused to rule on the DRC’s civil party status in those criminal proceedings and declared its other civil claims to be time-barred. The DRC considers that these judicial decisions were contrary to the right to a fair hearing and the right to an effective remedy (Articles 6(1) and 13 ECHR).

In its inadmissibility decision today, the ECtHR ruled that the application was incompatible ratione personae with the ECHR. In particular, the Strasbourg-based court found that the applicant did not fall within one of the other categories of applicants authorised to lodge an individual application under Article 34 ECHR, because the DRC is neither a private person or a group of individuals, nor a non-governmental organisation.

The decision, which is final, can be accessed here.


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