Monitoring the compliance of
member states with human rights standards is crucial to the Council of
Europe's work, and it has established various monitoring systems to carry
out this task.
Monitoring can be carried
out directly by Council of Europe bodies such as the Parliamentary
Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the Congress of Local and Regional
Authorities of Europe. This type of monitoring may be country specific or
Many human rights treaties provide for their own monitoring mechanisms
(treaty-based monitoring). These may range from a judicial body, such as
the European Court of Human Rights, to an independent group of experts, such
as the European Committee of Social Rights, the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CPT), and the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human
Beings (Greta). Treaties can also be monitored by representatives of states
parties, such as for the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's
Rights, or by steering committees (see treaty-based monitoring below).
Monitoring mechanisms can also be created high-level political decisions.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was set up by
the 1st Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in
1993, and was consolidated as an independent human rights monitoring body on
racism and racial discrimination by the Committee of Ministers in
2002. Similarly, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights was set up
in 1999 as an independent and impartial institution within the Council of
Europe (see independent human rights bodies below).
Monitoring has many shapes
and forms upon which assessment is based: these may include
country-by-country visits, governments' own reports, collective complaints
systems, individual complaint systems and the different types of reports
emerging from expert fact-finding visits to member states, even surprise
visits in emergency situations.
The principal role of any monitoring body is to ensure that member states
are complying in both law and practice with the Organisation's standards and
obligations. But non-compliance is not always deliberate or politically
motivated, and many monitoring bodies have the capacity to offer advice,
assistance and guidelines on policy making that will help those member
states having genuine difficulty in meeting their obligations.
role of Council of Europe bodies in monitoring: the Committee of
Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional
monitoring: the European Convention on Human Rights, the
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, the European Social Charter, the
Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and
Sexual Abuse, the European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human
Beings, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
human rights monitoring bodies: The
Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Commission against Racism and
violence against children (Council of Europe Publishing, 2008),
though monitoring is not the chief focus of this book, it explores this
subject from a child's rights perspective throughout.
justice for children (Council of Europe Publishing, 2008) describes
the principles of child-friendly justice at international level and examines
monitoring mechanisms and current systems of admissibility, determining how
easy or difficult it is for children to gain access to them.