European Convention on Human Rights improves protection from discrimination

05 December 2000

On November 4, 2000, in Rome, Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting all forms of discrimination, was opened for signature. It was signed by twenty-five of the Council of Europe's member states and will come into force when ten states have ratified it. The signatory states are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Macedonia and the Ukraine. States which did not sign the Protocol include the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria. Protocol 12 broadens the scope of the Convention's Article 14 on non-discrimination, which presently prohibits discrimination only in the enjoyment of the rights already enshrined in the Convention. The new protocol introduces a general prohibition on discrimination, guaranteeing that "the enjoyment of any right set forth by law shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status." Furthermore, the protocol states that "no one shall be discriminated against by any public authority on any ground […]" Welcoming the adoption of Protocol 12, Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer said that the Protocol was a "major step in the fight against racism and intolerance."



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