The impact of the regular supervisory system

Cases of progress noted by the Committee of Experts on the application of Convention and Recommendation

Since 1964, the Committee of Experts has kept track of the number of cases of progress in which it has noted changes in law and practice which have improved the application of a ratified Convention. To date, over 3,000 cases of progress (cases in which the Committee has expressed “satisfaction”) have been noted.

Since first identifying cases of satisfaction in its reports, the Committee of Experts has continued to follow the same general criteria. The Committee expresses satisfaction in cases in which, following comments it has made on a specific issue, governments have taken measures through either the adoption of new legislation, an amendment to the existing legislation or a significant change in the national policy or practice, thus achieving fuller compliance with their obligations under the respective Conventions. In expressing its satisfaction, the Committee indicates to governments and the social partners that it considers the specific matter resolved. The reason for identifying cases of satisfaction is twofold:

  • to place on record the Committee’s appreciation of the positive action taken by governments in response to its comments; and
  • to provide an example to other governments and social partners which have to address similar issues.

The impact of the regular supervisory system is not just limited to cases of progress. The Committee of Experts each year examines whether member States have fulfilled their obligation to submit the instruments adopted to their legislative bodies for consideration. Even if a country decides not to ratify a Convention, it may choose to bring its legislation into conformity with it. Member States regularly review the Committee’s comments on the application of a Convention in other countries and may amend their own law and practice so as to avoid similar problems in the application of a standard or to emulate good practices. Where a Convention has been ratified, the Committee often makes direct requests to governments, pointing to apparent problems in the application of a standard and giving the countries concerned time to respond and address these issues before any comments are published in its report. The Committee’s interventions facilitate social dialogue by requiring governments to review the application of a standard and to share this information with the social partners, who may also provide information. The ensuing social dialogue can lead to further problem-solving and prevention.

The reports of both the Committee of Experts and the Conference Committee are available on the Internet to millions of users. Governments and the social partners thus have an even greater incentive to solve problems in the application of standards in order to avoid critical comments by these bodies. Upon request by member States, the International Labour Office provides substantial technical assistance in drafting and revising national legislation to ensure that it is in conformity with international labour standards. In this way, the supervisory bodies play an important role in preventing problems in the application of standards from arising in the first place.