The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty which only member States of the Council of Europe may sign.
The Convention, which establishes the Court and lays down how it is to function, contains a list of the rights and guarantees which the States have undertaken to respect.
Domestic courts have to apply the Convention otherwise, in the event of complaints by individuals about failure to protect their rights, the European Court of Human Rights would find against the State.
The judges are elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from lists of three candidates proposed by each State.
Judgements finding violations are binding on the States concerned and they are obliged to execute them. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitors the execution of judgements.
Although the Council of Europe and the European Union now both share a common flag and an anthem, their roles, functions and aims are quite distinct.
The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organisation which today has 47 member states. It is concerned primarily with protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The European Union currently has 27 members that have delegated some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.
No country has ever joined the European Union (EU) without first belonging to the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe is not to be confused with the European Council which is a regular meeting (at least twice a year) of the heads of state or government from the member states of the European Union for the purpose of planning Union policy.
The Council of Europe: An Overview http://bit.ly/fM299a
European Court of Human Rights : Questions and Answers http://bit.ly/fJ5rIX
The Council of Europe in brief - Do not get confused http://bit.ly/9D2waN (OK Mummy)
Council of Europe flag
All facets of the same EU coin. http://bit.ly/hWoFXV