Following its expulsion from the Council of Europe on 16 March 2022, the Russian Federation ceased to be a High Contracting Party to the European Convention on Human Rights on 16 September 2022 after 26 years of membership.
This expulsion was confirmed on 23 March in a Resolution by the Committee of Ministers and is in accordance with the six months’ notice period for denunciation set out in Article 58 of the Convention. This decision was taken in the context of a procedure launched under Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, that the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe.
In line with the Resolution of the European Court of Human Rights of 22 March 2022, the Court will deal with applications directed against Russia in relation to alleged violations of the Convention that occurred until 16 September 2022. A total of 17,450 applications directed against Russia are currently pending before the ECtHR. The Committee of Ministers (CM) will continue to supervise the execution of judgments and of friendly settlements. Russia is bound to fulfil its full financial obligations up to 16 March; it also remains liable for all arrears accrued at that date.
The Council of Europe
Russia’s expulsion from the ECHR followed it earlier suspension from its right to representation in the Council of Europe. On 25 February 2022, the day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Committee of Ministers met and agreed to suspend Russia from its rights to representation in the Council of Europe (The CoE). This was under Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe providing for suspension and exclusion of member states.
On 15 March, the Parliamentary Assembly issued an opinion that the Committee of Ministers should request Russia immediately withdraw from the Council of Europe, and that it should otherwise expel it. On the same day the Russian Government said it would be withdrawing from the CoE. However, the Committee of Ministers decision on 16 March 2022 provided that Russia would cease to be a member of the Council of Europe from that day.
The Council of Europe was established in 1949, to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe. The CoE promotes democracy and human rights through a range of international treaties and conventions. It has adopted more than 200 treaties, conventions and protocols, many of which are open to non-member states. Its best-known convention is the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights oversees how the Convention is implemented. The CoE also monitors Member States’ progress in upholding its human rights standards and specific conventions through independent expert monitoring bodies, which undertake country visits and issue recommendations.
The Russian delegation had previously been suspended from PACE in 2014, following the Russian occupation of the Crimea. Russia subsequently halted its membership payments and threatened to leave the CoE altogether, before returning to the Assembly in 2019.
Russia maintains that it left the Council of Europe shortly before its expulsion and immediately ceased to be a party to the ECHR.