I have to admit that I had serious doubts that Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights - the reform of the European Court of Human Rights - would ever enter into force, but now it seems as if a solution was near.
The reform of the overloaded European Court of Human Rights has been halted by the refusal of the Russian Duma to ratify Protocol 14, and there has been a deadlock for over three years - since Norway ratified the document as country 46 out of 47 (at the time 45 out of 46 at the time) in October 2006.
In order to reduce the case-load, an interim protocol - Protocol 14bis - had been put into place after the ministerial meeting in Madrid in May (declaration) and became active in July. Nevertheless, the future of human rights protection in the light of the non-ratification of Protocol 14 was still unclear and is supposed to be discussed at a special conference in Interlaken in 2010.
Now, according to a Council of Europe press release (UPDATE: the press release has been deleted, see my follow-up post), the Russian Duma has finally indicated its approval to the ratification of the document. This move followed a decision by the Committee of Ministers' Deputies (= the CoE's COREPER) last week, which followed a non-public letter sent by Russia in early November (see the last agenda item of the CoE-meeting from 6 November 2009), as we learn from Itar-Tass.
Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland (who is also the Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chairman) is on a visit to Russia right now, probably discussion this issue.
And despite the general urgency of the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, the ratification of Protocol 14 would also allow the EU to join the European Convention of Human Rights as I have discussed in a previous post.
I am still hesitant to applaud but since the ratification of Protocol 14 looks as close as never before in the last three years, I see a light on the horizon and I am hoping that Russia will proceed quickly with the necessary steps to ratify the Protocol.