European Social Charter

Message from the President of the European Committee of Social Rights
The 50th anniversary of the European Social Charter: creating new dynamics for the next 50 years

The 50th anniversary celebration of the 1961 Charter is the result of the combined efforts of all the players involved in the implementation of this instrument and proof of the great potential of this common effort. In the context of the 50th anniversary, the Committee of Ministers in its major Declaration of 12 October 2011 defined a two-fold obligation:

- on the one hand, it stressed the need to redress certain unacceptable asymmetries: between the States of the Council of Europe which are not yet bound by the Charter and those which are, between States having ratified the Revised Charter of 1996 and those which are still bound by the 1961 Charter as well as between States which have accepted the Additional Protocol of 1998 providing for a system of collective complaints (in certain cases accepting the further possibility of allowing national NGOs to submit complaints) and those which have not accepted the Protocol.

- on the other hand, it emphasised the obligation to recognise the effectiveness of the social rights laid down in the Charter as a veritable responsibility to be shared between all players at the national level (judges, parliaments, government officials, local and regional authorities, social partners and civil society organisations, mediators and other institutions defending human rights, academics and journalists) as well as at an international level (the European Committee of Social Rights of the European Social Charter working in synergy with the European Code of Social Security and with other institutions and organs of the Council of Europe, as well as with the UN, ILO and with the EU).

Even if the 50th anniversary would have been an ideal date for the 1961 Charter to take its well-earned retirement and to be definitively replaced by the Revised Charter of 1996 in its 15th year of existence, the multiple efforts on the part of all of the players involved in the implementation of the Charter on the occasion of this anniversary, nevertheless allows me to look forward to the future with optimism. The Social Charter and the case law of the Committee remain a source of legitimacy for national policy (legislative, executive or judicial), a source of mutual enrichment for international institutions and organs committed to the defense of human rights, a source of academic exchange, as a source of ideals and engagement of the members of the Committee, and especially a source of democratic culture and hope which will better the daily lives of millions of people.