Periodic Reporting (UN, CoE)
International monitoring of the implementation of human rights treaties
The mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of international and regional human rights treaties are usually defined in the treaties themselves. A specific monitoring body has been established for most treaties.
The monitoring bodies are responsible for:
- processing the periodic reports submitted by states on the national implementation of treaties
- issuing expert statements on the interpretation of the treaties
- with regard to certain treaties, processing complaints made by individuals or groups.
Finland is a signatory to seven human rights treaties of the United Nations, each of whose implementation in the signatory states is monitored by a specific UN treaty body. Finland has the duty to submit periodic reports on compliance with the provisions of these treaties.
With regard to the Council of Europe, Finland has the duty to report on compliance under five CoE treaties on human rights.
The frequency of reporting is usually determined in the treaty in question. The reporting period varies between one year and five years.
In addition to periodic reporting, most monitoring bodies have the right to receive additional information about the implementation of a treaty upon request.
The basic elements of Finland’s human rights reporting are honesty and openness and compliance with the reporting schedules in accordance with treaty obligations. In its reporting, Finland aims to describe positive developments as well as be open about any problems.
Participation of civil society in monitoring and reporting
The government of Finland encourages civic organisations to actively participate in human rights reporting.
- When preparatory work for a report begins, statements are requested from civic organisations about the topics of the report.
- During the drafting stage, representatives of civic organisations are invited to discuss and comment on the report before it is finalised.
In addition, civic organisations are encouraged to engage in so-called shadow reporting and to submit a parallel submission directly to the treaty monitoring bodies.
Periodic reports are reviewed by the committee responsible for the monitoring of the treaty in question.
For most treaties, an oral government hearing is organised with the representative of the unit responsible for the reporting of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as representatives of other ministries and, currently, usually also a member of the Standing Committee on the Constitution.
Recommendations and conclusions
After reviewing the report, the committee prepares its conclusions and issues recommendations, whose implementation the government reports on in its next periodic report, or sooner.
The recommendations are translated into the national languages and distributed widely across central and local government as well as to civic organisations. The committee’s recommendations, as well as periodic reports and related materials, are translated and published on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Monitoring of the implementation of recommendations
With regard to some treaties, periodic information on the implementation of recommendations is submitted to the committee before the issuance of the next report, usually within 6–12 months of the issuance of the recommendations. For other treaties, implementation is reported in the next reporting round according to the schedule.