Once a country has ratified an ILO Convention, it is required to report regularly on the measures it has taken for its implementation. Every three years, governments have to provide reports detailing the steps they have taken in law and practice to apply any of the eight fundamental and four governance Conventions that they have ratified. For all other Conventions, reports have to be provided every six years, except for Conventions that have been “shelved” (which are 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 government reports, or send comments directly to the ILO on the application of Conventions.
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 role of the Committee of Experts is to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the application of international labour standards in ILO member States.
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 annual report of the Committee of Experts. 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 (see Handbook of procedures relating to international labour Conventions and Recommendations).
The annual report of the Committee of Experts consists of three parts. Part I contains the General Report, which includes comments on compliance by member States with their Constitutional obligations. Part II contains observations on the application of international labour standards, while Part III is a General Survey on a specific subject selected by the ILO Governing Body (see the section on General Surveys)