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CommitteeThe European Committee of Social Rights is the monitoring body of the European Social Charter – a CoE human rights treaty (on economic and social rights) designed to complement the civil and political rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Likewise, the Committee’s work is also aimed at complementing the work of the European Court of Human Rights. However, the powers of the two monitoring bodies are different. The Committee consists of 15 independent experts who are elected by the Committee of Ministers for six years terms, once renewable. It conducts, on average, seven sessions per year in Strasbourg. The Committee’s work is led by a Bureau consisting of a President, one or more Vice-Presidents, and a General Rapporteur who maintains the consistency of the Committee’s conclusions and judgments.

The committee has two monitoring mechanisms:

  • Collective (not individual) complaints procedure, international and national social partners, national employer organisations and trade unions, and certain non-governmental organisations may submit complaint applications to the committee
  • Through a reporting system, each state party is required to submit about how they are implementing the charter. These reports are reviewed by the Committee and issues recommendations based on information included in the report.

The European Committee of Social Rights is responsible for:

  • Evaluating national reports and publishing conclusions on whether states are adequately protecting certain labour and social welfare rights
  • Adopting decisions on collective complaints received on whether the state in question is complying with the Charter
  • Notifying the Committee of Ministers of the measures taken or planned to ensure states comply upon finding a violation of the Charter.

iconLockWant more? You can read about the European Committee of Social Rights and learn more about its monitoring mechanisms

How does it help tackle violence against women?

States Reporting Procedure

The Committee requests states include information on domestic violence in their annual reports, and regularly address domestic violence against women under Article 16 of the European Social Charter. This information is reviewed by the Committee, who then issues conclusions and recommendations based on their findings. These recommendations can relate from improved services for victims of domestic violence to the revision of national law.

For example, in 2015, the Committee concluded that the Netherlands’ was not in conformity with its obligations under the European Social Charter with regard to the domestic violence situation in their Caribbean Municipalities:

In respect of the special Caribbean municipalities (Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba), the report indicates that domestic violence is a frequent issue, which is not tackled with adequately. The Committee considers that the situation is not in conformity with the 1961 Charter on the ground that the protection against domestic violence against women is not adequate.

iconLockWant more? You can find information online about the work of the Committee on addressing domestic violence within states parties using the European Social Charter’s database (HUDOC)

Collective Complaints

Unlike similar complaints procedures for other bodies, the ECSR’s procedure is for collective cases only, and may only be brought by selected national and international social partners, unions and NGOs. Their collective nature, however, means that domestic remedies do not need to be exhausted. This mechanism has not yet been used for a VAW case.

iconLockWant more? You can learn about the collective complaints procedure and how to file an application

Contact Information

Department of the European Social Charter
Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
Council of Europe
1, quai Jacoutot
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Tel. +33 (0)3 90 21 49 61


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