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.
The Committee of Experts was set up in 1926 to examine the growing number of government reports on ratified conventions. Today it is composed of 20 eminent jurists appointed by the Governing Body for three-year terms. The Experts come from different geographic regions, legal systems and cultures. The Committee's role is to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the state of application of international labour standards.
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.
The Committee's annual report consists of three parts. Part I contains a General Report, which includes comments about member states' respect for their Constitutional obligations and highlights from the Committee's observations; Part II contains the observations on the application of international labour standards, while Part III is a General Survey.