Capacities to be Enjoyed by Non-Governmental Organizations

Ahmed et al v United Kingdom (decision), 12 September 1995 [ECtHR]

Case no 22954/93

2. UNISON, the fifth applicant, claims to be a victim of substantially the same violations of the Convention as the individual applicants. It considers that as the Regulations affect local authority employees both as employees and as members of their trade union, the union may itself claim to be directly affected by the Regulations. It points out that a significant result of the Regulations is to inhibit individuals from engaging in and expressing views on trade union matters.

The Commission recalls that the word "victim" in Article 25 (art. 25) of the Convention refers to the person or persons directly affected by the act or omission in issue (Eur. Court H.R., Corigliano judgment of 10 December 1982, Series A no. 57, p. 12, para. 31). The Commission has found, for example, that the loss of employment by journalists on closure by the State of the press agency which employed them did not suffice to permit the journalists to claim to be victims of alleged violations of the Convention in respect of the closure (No.10628/83, Dec. 14.10.85, D.R. 44, p. 175, at p. 190).

The Commission notes the express inclusion, in Article 11 para. 1 (art. 11-1) of the Convention, of the right "to form and to join trade unions", and recalls that a trade union may claim to be a victim of alleged violations of its own rights (cf. Eur. Court H.R., National Union of Belgian Police Case, judgment of 27 October 1975, Series A no. 20, p. 18, para. 39), and that a trade union may be able to claim to be the victim of a violation of Article 11 (art. 11) of the Convention where the right to join a trade union is completely removed (cf. No. 11603/85, Council of Civil Service Unions et al. v. the United Kingdom, Dec. 20.1.87, D.R. 50, p. 228, where the question of the union's standing was not expressly addressed).

The Regulations at issue in the present case do not affect any rights which UNISON may have under Article 11 (art. 11) of the Convention, and UNISON's freedom of expression is not limited in any way by the Regulations.

Moreover, the Regulations were not addressed to trade unions but to local authority employees, and they do not refer to limitations on individuals' union activity. To the extent that an individual may be affected by the Regulations in the exercise of his Convention rights, for example in his freedom of expression by speaking in public in a union context, he is the person affected and not the union. 

Accordingly the Commission finds that UNISON is not directly affected by the provisions of the Regulations within the meaning of the Convention organs. It may not therefore claim to be a victim of a violation of the Convention within the meaning of the Article 25 (art. 25).

This part of the application is therefore incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention and must be declared inadmissible in accordance with Article 27 para. 2 (art. 27-2) of the Convention.

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