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Activity: Human Rights in Europe. Picture of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (France)
Foto: Simon. Lisens: CC BY NC ND 2.0

Human Rights in Europe

The human rights system in Europe is the most advanced human rights system in the world. This group work will give students knowledge about the Council of Europe, the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.

Photo: Simon. Lisens: CC BY NC ND 2.0

Quick facts

activity topic
Human rights
Target audience for the activity
High school • Organizations and others
Activity duration
Ca 2 hours
Materials: Large sheets of paper, pen and paper. A copy of the European Convention of Human Rights for each participant. Computer, projector and loudspeakers for showing film.

Activity goals

  • Learn that all residents in the Council of Europe member states may bring cases before the European Court of Human Rights if they believe that their human rights under the European Convention have been violated.
Background of the activity
Developed by the Human Rights Academy through a series of courses for teachers in Russia and Norway.
  • The facilitator has a lecture on the European human rights system (30 minutes), and shows the film "The European Court of Human Rights"
  • Divide the participants into groups. Preferably there should be no more than four to a group.
  • The facilitator shows the group how to find cases in the HUDOC data base on the European Court of Human Rights webpage. It is possible to search cases according to a keyword or an article in the European Convention. A good tip is to work with the press releases of the judgements as they give a good overview of the case.
  • Each group is instructed to find and analyse a case from the European Court of Human Rights. The participants can work with cases on freedom of expression or other subjects they are interested in. The following questions are then to be answered:
    • Who are the parties?
    • Which article (s) in the European Convention of Human Rights is (are) claimed to have been violated?
    • What is the case about? What is the problem? Give a short summary
    • What is the Court’s decision and what are the main underlying arguments?
  • The groups will then present their cases to the others.


  • In what way has the European system contributed to strengthening human rights in Europe after the Second World War?
  • In what way are democracy and human rights related?


The European Court of Human Rights has proven to be a productive and influential European instrument. In general, one can say that the states respect the Court´s judgements. But the Court’s success has led to one disadvantage. Its positive reputation has led to many more applications than it has managed to handle. Hopefully, new reforms will make the system more efficient.

Follow-up assignments

  • Write an article about a person or group that has won a case in the European Court of Human Rights. The subject of your article may be from your own or another country.
  • Write an article about the Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commissioner acts as an independent institution and is responsible for promoting awareness of and respect for human rights in all Council of Europe member states.