Strasbourg, 4 September 2009

of the meeting to be held from 2.30 to 6 pm
on Wednesday 30 September 2009
in Room G03, Agora building

1. Draft agenda of the meeting: for adoption

2. Synopsis of the meeting on 22 June 2009 [CONF/HR(2009)SYN3]: for adoption

1st part of the meeting (2. 30 – 4.15 pm)

3. The Social Charter and economic and social rights: for information, debate and actionSee the text presenting the Charter in the Appendix: please read it in preparation for the meeting.

2nd part of the meeting (4. 30 – 6 pm)

4. World Appeal for Childhood: for adoption

6. Setting up of a working group on sects and human rights: for information

7. Round table on human rights defenders, Kyiv, 17-18 September,  organised by the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in co-operation with the INGO Conference: for information (Cyril Ritchie)

8. Other business


The European Social Charter at a glance
A Council of Europe Treaty safeguarding Human Rights

The European Social Charter sets out rights and freedoms and establishes a supervisory mechanism guaranteeing their respect by the States Parties. Following its revision, the 1996 revised European Social Charter, which came into force in 1999, is gradually replacing the initial 1961 treaty.

I. Rights guaranteed by the Charter
The rights guaranteed by the Charter concern all individuals in their daily lives:





Legal and social protection:

Movement of persons:


The European Committee of Social Rights (referred to below as “the Committee”) ascertains whether countries have honoured the undertakings set out in the Charter. Its fifteen independent, impartial members are elected by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers for a period of six years, renewable once. The Committee determines whether or not national law and practice in the States Parties are in conformity with the Charter (Article 24 of the Charter, as amended by the 1991 Turin Protocol).

A monitoring procedure based on national reports

Every year the States Parties submit a report indicating how they implement the Charter in law and in practice. Each report concerns some of the accepted provisions of the Charter.

The Committee examines the reports and decides whether or not the situations in the countries concerned are in conformity with the Charter. Its decisions, known as “conclusions”, are published every year.

If a state takes no action on a Committee decision to the effect that it does not comply with the Charter, the Committee of Ministers addresses a recommendation to that state, asking it to change the situation in law and/or in practice.

The Committee of Ministers’ work is prepared by a Governmental Committee comprising representatives of the governments of the States Parties to the Charter, assisted by observers representing European employers’ organisations and trade unions .

A collective complaints procedure

Under a protocol opened for signature in 1995, which came into force in 1998, complaints of violations of the Charter may be lodged with the European Committee of Social Rights.

Organisations entitled to lodge complaints with the Committee

– In the case of all states that have accepted the procedure:

1. ETUC : European Trade Union Confederation ; BUSINESSEUROPE : formerly UNICE ; IOE : International Organisation of Employers;

2. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with participative status with the Council of Europe which are on a list drawn up for this purpose by the Governmental Committee;

3. Employers’ organisations and trade unions in the country concerned;

– In the case of states which have also agreed to this:

4. National NGOs.

The complaint file must contain the following information:

The complaint must be drafted in English or French in the case of organisations in categories 1 and 2 above. In the case of the others (categories 3 and 4), it may be drafted in the official language, or one of the official languages, of the state concerned.

The Committee examines the complaint and, if the formal requirements have been met, declares it admissible.

Once the complaint has been declared admissible, a written procedure is set in motion, with an exchange of memorials between the parties. The Committee may decide to hold a public hearing.

The Committee then takes a decision on the merits of the complaint, which it forwards to the parties concerned and the Committee of Ministers in a report, which is made public within four months of its being forwarded.

Finally, the Committee of Ministers adopts a resolution. If appropriate, it may recommend that the state concerned take specific measures to bring the situation into line with the Charter.

III. Effects of the application of the Charter in the various states

As a result of the monitoring system, states make changes to their legislation and/or practice in order to bring the situation into line with the Charter. Details of these results (and current developments) are described in the country factsheets available on the internet site.

Where to find out more about the Charter