The European Social Charter of 1961 (ETS No. 035) is the counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights in the sphere of economic and social rights.
The Charter of 1961 guarantees the enjoyment, without discrimination, of fundamental social and economic rights defined in the framework of a social policy that Parties undertake to pursue, by all appropriate means (Part I).
Of the rights guaranteed by the Charter, the right to work, the right to organise, the right to bargain collectively, the right to social security, the right to social and medical assistance, the right to the social, legal and economic protection of the family, and the right to protection and assistance for migrant workers and their families are regarded as particularly significant (Part II).
Any State ratifying the Charter must undertake to be bound by at least 5 of Articles 1, 5, 6, 12, 13, 16 and 19, and by such a number of Articles or numbered paragraphs, provided that the total number of Articles or paragraphs is not less than 10 Articles or 45 numbered paragraphs of Part II of the Charter.
The European Social Charter sets up an international system of supervision of its application by the Parties based on national reports. Every year the Parties submit a report on some of the accepted provisions of the Charter indicating how they implement the Charter in law and in practice. The European Committee of Social Rights (former Committee of Independent Experts) examines the reports and decides whether or not the situations in the countries concerned are in conformity with the Charter. If a Party takes no action on a decision of non-conformity of the European Committee on Social Rights, the Committee of Ministers may address a recommendation to that Party, asking it to change the situation in law and in practice. The Committee of Ministers’ work is prepared by a Governmental Committee comprising representatives of the governments of the Parties to the Charter, assisted by observers representing European employers’ organisations and trade unions.