Strasbourg was another city we previously visited on our Rhine river cruise. On that occasion the weather was boiling hot. This time it was cold and wet. However we had a very specific destination in mind, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR was celebrating 60th anniversary with an open day on 5 May, the first time it had been open to the public in 10 years. As I have an interest in law I really wanted to take this rare opportunity to have a peek inside.
When we arrived there was quite a queue and it took some time to get through security.
The introduction on the tour was given in French and although we both have a GCSE in French we really struggled to pick much up. Once inside we asked if any tours would be in English and the Polish Lawyer who was giving the next tour was happy to do a tour in both English and French!
The building looks a bit like a boat and is made of concrete, aluminium and glass. The glass is thought to represent the transparency of the court. The drums on either side are supposed to represent the scales of justice.
The first exhibit we saw was the European Convention on Human Rights. For a law geek like me this was quite exciting.
We then shown around the building and a little of the history of the Council of Europe and the ECHR was explained.
The Council of Europe is an international organisation whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and is distinct from the EU. The best known body of the Council of Europe is the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.
It is also housed across the street in The Palais de l’Europe and was celebrating it’s 70th anniversary also with an open day so we headed over to have a look. The building is very different to the ECHR, very solid with a wood interior.
This was a self guided tour and was was mostly on display were gifts from various countries, including tapestries and statues.
We also picked up a few freebies at both the Council of Europe and the ECHR.
We did also have a wander around Strasbourg and enjoy the tourist sights.