European Committee of Social Rights
last updated July 29, 2013



Type of Mechanism
Collective complaints to the European Committee of Social Rights
Scope of the Procedure
The rights enumerated in the European Social Charter and the Revised Charter, as elaborated in the Additional Protocol (ETS No. 158).
Who can Submit a Complaint?
NGOs with consultative status and which are included on a list drawn up by the Governmental Committee, international organizations of employers and trade unions.  NGOs must be from States that have ratified the Additional Protocol.  To date, 15 European countries have accepted the collective complaint procedure. A list of these countries can be found here.[1] For information on how to register with consultative status, see the European Social Charter website.[2]
Role of Advocates
NGOs with consultative status and which are included on a specific list can submit complaints.  The list of organizations entitled to lodge complaints with the Committee can be accessed under "collective complaints" on the website of the European Social Charter.[3]
Available Remedies
Resolution adopted by the Committee of Ministers and possibly recommendations on specific measures to bring the State into compliance.
How to Submit a Complaint
Complaints under the Additional Protocol to the Social Charter must be submitted in either English or French and must contain the following information:
(1)  the name and contact details of the organization submitting the complaint;
(2)  proof that the person submitting and signing the complaint is entitled to represent the organization lodging the complaint;
(3)  the State against which the complaint is directed;
(4)  an indication of the provisions of the Social Charter that have allegedly been violated;
(5)  the subject matter of the complaint, meaning a detailed argument about how the particular State is not in compliance with the Social Charter, including supporting documents.[4]
Where to Send Communications
Conseil de l'Europe
Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
Council of Europe
1, quai Jacoutot
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel. +33 (0) 3 88 41 32 58
Fax +33 (0) 3 88 41 37 00
How the Complaint Procedure Works
A Committee of Independent Experts examines the complaint and either finds it admissible or inadmissible.
In 2011, the Rules of the European Committee of Social Rights provided that after a complaint is deemed admissible, the Committee may order an immediate measure to be taken by one or both of the parties if it believes the immediate measure will avoid the risk of damage and ensure the rights recognized in the Social Charter.[5]
If admissible, the written procedure begins and the parties exchange memorials. The Committee may hold a public hearing. 
Once the Committee makes a decision on the merits, it forwards it to the parties concerned and the Committee of Ministers.  In four months, the report is made public.
The Committee of Ministers adopts a resolution and may recommend that the State implement specific measures in compliance with the Social Charter.
A complaint can bring public attention to an issue, but it may be difficult for advocates to use this mechanism to address issues of violence, as has been possible in the UN system, under the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the form of shadow reports.  Of the complaints considered by the Commission, however, some do address issues of equality of opportunity and treatment of men and women in the workplace and the right to medical assistance, topics which could be implicated in cases of gender-based violence. 
Few NGOs meet the requirements necessary to submit a complaint under this mechanism and, in the fifteen years since the collective complaint procedure has existed, only 100 complaints have been lodged with the Committee. See the list of complaints here.[6]


Additional Resources
The Council of Europe webpage on collective complaints under the European Social Charter has links to organizations that are entitled to use this mechanism as well as the complaints lodged to date with the European Committee of Social Rights.
The Council of Europe has also released a report about the collective complaint process. That report can be viewed here.[7]
[1]“Organizations Entitled to Submit Complaints,” Council of Europe, accessed June 17, 2013,
[2]“CPT Visits,” Council of Europe, accessed June 17, 2013,
[3]“Organizations Entitled to Submit Complaints,” Council of Europe, accessed June 17, 2013,
[4]Council of Europe, European Social Charter: Collective Complaints, accessed June 17, 2013,
[6]“List of complaints and state of procedure,” Council of Europe, May 11, 2013,
[7]Council of Europe, European Social Charter: Collective Complaints, accessed June 17, 2013,