United Nations Supervisory Bodies

There are various international mechanisms under the United Nations framework that monitor States’ compliance with international human rights law. Treaty-based supervisory mechanisms, or treaty bodies, are those enshrined in human rights instruments (treaties, conventions, or covenants). There are ten treaty bodies that monitor the implementation and adherence to the core international human rights treaties: the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Committee against Torture (CAT), the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

Charter-based mechanisms  are also supervisory mechanisms that are not based on binding human rights treaty obligations. These include, for example, the Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure, which addresses complaints from individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations that claim to be victims or have knowledge of human rights violations; the Universal Periodic Review, which reviews the human rights records of all member States and Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council; which include all mechanisms established by the Commission on Human Rights and taken on by the Human Rights Council to monitor country-specific situations and thematic issues worldwide.


ILO instruments and evaluation

An impartial and technical evaluation of the application of ILO legal instruments is provided by the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. Once a country has ratified an ILO convention, it is obliged to report regularly on measures it has taken to implement it. Every two years governments must submit reports detailing the steps they have taken in law and practice to apply any of the eight fundamental and four priority conventions they may have ratified; for all other conventions, reports must be submitted every five years, except for conventions that have been shelved (no longer supervised on a regular basis). Reports on the application of conventions may be requested at shorter intervals. Governments are required to submit copies of their reports to employers’ and workers’ organizations. These organizations may comment on the governments’ reports; they may also send comments on the application of conventions directly to the ILO.

When examining the application of international labour standards the Committee of Experts makes two kinds of comments: observations and direct requests. Observations contain comments on fundamental questions raised by the application of a particular convention by a state. These observations are published in the Committee’s annual report. Direct requests relate to more technical questions or requests for further information. They are not published in the report but are communicated directly to the governments concerned.


Link to cases by supervisory bodies

Social Protection and Human Rights