The European Committee of Social Rights monitors compliance with the Charter under two separate procedures:

The collective complaints procedure was introduced by the Additional Protocol providing for a system of collective complaints  adopted in 1995 and which entered into force in 1998.

The aim pursued with the procedure was to increase the effectiveness, speed and impact of the implementation of the Charter. The collective complaints procedure has strengthened the role of the social partners and non-governmental organisations by enabling them to directly apply to the ECSR for rulings on possible non-implementation of the Charter in the countries that have accepted its provisions and the complaints procedure.

The collective complaints procedure is a human rights protection system for social and economic rights which complements the judicial protection provided under the European Convention on Human Rights for civil and political rights. Because of their collective nature, complaints should raise questions in general, concerning non-compliance of a State’s law or practice with one or more of the provisions of the Charter. Complaints about individual situations may not be submitted. Because of its particular nature, complaints may be lodged without exhausting domestic remedies and without the complainant organisation necessarily being a victim of the alleged violation.  

Organisations entitled to lodge collective complaints: 

Furthermore, any State may grant representative national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within its jurisdiction the right to lodge complaints against it. So far only Finland has done so.

If a complaint has been considered admissible by the ECSR, the grounds of the complaint are then examined and a decision on the merits is adopted by the ECSR. This decision establishes whether a State’s law and/or practice is or not in compliance with one or more provisions of the Charter. The decision is forwarded by the ECSR to the parties and, for the purpose of its follow-up, to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The decisions adopted by the ECSR are published and can be consulted in the European Social Charter Database HUDOC.

The Charter is a legally binding treaty of international law and the ECSR as a treaty body has sole responsibility for making the legal assessment of state compliance with the Charter. The Committee’s jurisprudence (decisions and conclusions) represents an authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s provisions. States Parties’ have an obligation to cooperate with the Committee and its decisions and conclusions that arises from the application of the principle of good faith to the observance of all treaty obligations. For States Parties to ignore or not take into account the Committee’s decisions and conclusions would be to fail to show good faith in implementing the obligations they have undertaken to be bound by in terms of the Charter.

Resources and links


Department of Social Rights

Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
Council of Europe
1, quai Jacoutot
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Tél. +33 (0)3 90 21 55 23



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