Building a Europe for and with children


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 thematic.

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.
The role of Council of Europe bodies in monitoring: the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
Treaty-based 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
Other independent human rights monitoring bodies: The Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
Suggested reading
Eradicating 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. 
International 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.