European Family Law Volume I
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European Family Law Volume I

The Impact of Institutions and Organisations on European Family Law

Edited by Jens M. Scherpe

This four-volume set maps the emerging European family law. It is intended to serve as a resource for anyone interested in this area of law, as well as a basis for teaching on comparative and international family law courses. The first volume examines the impact of institutions and organisations on European family law. While there is no European body that could actually legislate definitively on family law, there are some institutions that have a direct impact on European family law, while the impact of others is more indirect. In the second volume the changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for domestic family law are analysed in 21 different jurisdictions, in 16 chapters. All contributions look at ‘horizontal’ family law (the law concerning the relationships between adults), ‘vertical’ family law (the law concerning the relationships of adults and children) as well an ‘individual’ family law (the law on names and gender identity). In the third volume the contributions take a comparative view on specific issues from a European perspective. The fourth volume, which works as a stand-alone monograph, draws on all of the previous chapters, and discusses the present and future of European family law. It establishes areas where ‘institutional’ European family law exists – in the sense that there are binding legal rules for all European jurisdictions – for example, as a result of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights. It also identifies areas where, as a result of common legal and social developments for ‘horizontal’, ‘vertical’ and ‘individual’ family law, an ‘organic’ European family law is emerging and suggests how family laws in Europe are going to develop in the future.
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Chapter 2: The impact of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights on European family law

Dagmar Coester-Waltjen


The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) entered into force on 4 November 1950. Following the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948, the ECHR was drafted by the newly founded Council of Europe. The aim has been to secure ‘the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared’. The ECHR was also enacted to reaffirm the ‘profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend’. The Council of Europe (not be confused with the European Council, which is an organ of the European Union) was founded in 1949 with the signing of the Treaty of London by the then ten Contracting States. The idea for such an organization can be seen in a speech of Winston Churchill, who in Zurich in 1946 called for a ‘kind of United States of Europe’ and the creation of – what he already called – a ‘Council of Europe’. The Council of Europe now has 47 Contracting States. Membership is open to any ‘European’ state.

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