Human rights treaties and reporting

Human rights, formulated in global and regional human rights treaties that are binding on their signatories, are promoted through the same treaties.

The key human rights treaties have been negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) and the Council of Europe (CoE), but human rights elements can also be found in many other instruments. Human rights treaties have moreover been adopted by various other international organisations, although they are not equally widely adhered to.

The UN treaty system includes seven treaties classifiable as human rights treaties and six protocols attached to them. Under the Council of Europe regime, there are four human rights treaties proper.

Most human rights treaties provide for monitoring mechanisms for their implementation, and often a specific monitoring body is established in them.

Supervisory bodies have the following duties:

  • examining the periodic reports submitted by the States Parties on the national implementation of the human rights treaties;
  • publishing General Comments that guide the interpretation of the treaties; and
  • for some treaties, investigating individual and collective complaints.

Periodic reporting

The implementation of the provisions contained in international and regional human rights instruments is chiefly monitored by examining periodic reports submitted by states.

In their periodic reports, governments report on the national implementation of the human rights instruments concerned.

Accuracy, transparency and observing time frames imposed by treaty obligations are essential in the human rights reporting of the Finnish government.

The reports not only describe positive developments but they also present possible problems.

The Finnish government encourages NGOs to take an active part in the reporting process, by asking for their views on the information to be included in the reports and by inviting NGO representatives to discuss the draft report and comment on its contents prior to its finalisation.