The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe human rights treaty. For 60 years, the Charter has been protecting the social and economic rights of citizens across Europe. It was open for signature on 18 October 1961 in Turin, Italy.
In these years, the Charter has been revised and new rights have been included to take into account the challenges facing our modern societies. But the Charter has remained at the heart of the Council of Europe’s statutory goals: human rights, rule of law and democracy, which cannot be realised without the respect for social rights
High-Level Panel 60th Anniversary

 High-level panel on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the European Social Charter
18 October 2021, Palais de l'Europe, Strasbourg

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What is the European Social Charter

  The European Social Charter, known as the Social Constitution of Europe, is a Council of Europe treaty that guarantees fundamental social and economic rights. It is complementary to the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects civil and political rights. The Charter is based on the same principles of universality, indivisibility and interdependence as other human rights.

  The Charter guarantees a broad range of everyday human rights related to employment, safety at work, health, social protection and welfare, housing, education, with a specific emphasis on the protection of vulnerable groups such as older persons, children, persons with disabilities and migrants. The enjoyment of these rights must be guaranteed without discrimination.

  The respect of the Charter by States Parties is examined by the European Committee of Social Rights through two monitoring mechanisms: the collective complaints procedure and the reporting procedure.

  Social partners and non-governmental organisations play an important role in both collective complaints and reporting.

  The decisions and conclusions of the European Committee of Social Rights should guide States action. They provide an authentic interpretation of the applicable international law and a basis for positive developments in social rights through legislative and policy measures at national level.

Papers on the European Social Charter

Current and former members of the European Committee of Social Rights shared their knowledge, their thoughts and their hopes for the European Social Charter by submitting a paper on that occasion. 

 See a complete list of papers

Who are our main partners

  States Parties to the Charter 

Today, the Charter is one of the most widely accepted human rights set of standards within the Council of Europe. All 47 member states have signed either the 1961 or the revised Charter; 43 out of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified one of the two treaties.

  National and European social partners and Non-Governmental Organisations

Social partners and Non-Governmental Organisations recognised by the Council of Europe can bring complaints before the European Committee of Social Rights when they consider that citizens' rights have been violated. In addition, these organisations can submit observations to the European Committee of Social Rights under the collective complaints and reporting procedures. 

  National Human Rights Institutions and Equality Bodies 

National Human Rights Institutions and Equality Bodies can submit additional information to the European Committee of Social Rights under the collective complaints and reporting procedures. 

  International Organisations

The European Social Charter system, which includes the European Committee of Social Rights, works in cooperation with the European Union, the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and others. 

  How did the Charter come into being? 

When it came to giving binding legal force to the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, the Council of Europe adopted two separate treaties, at an interval of about 10 years.

It focused first on civil and political rights, which were incorporated into the European Convention on Human Rights.

Even if a reference to the social dimension appears both in the preamble and in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, it took over 10 years after the adoption of the Convention for the European Social Charter finally to be adopted.