Each year the CEACR meets to discuss the application of ratified Conventions based on governments’ reports, observations made by employers’ and workers’ organizations, and other information available to it.
The CEACR is an independent body established by the International Labour Conference in 1926 and its members are appointed by the Governing Body. Since 1979, it is composed of 20 members. The CEACR has progressively achieved broad gender parity and was composed in 2020 of 11 men and 9 women. Each geographical area is represented by five experts emanating from a broad range of legal systems. Click to see the full list of CEACR members.
The CEACR is composed of legal experts charged with examining the application of Conventions and Recommendations by ILO member States. As indicated in its annual report, “the Committee of Experts undertakes an impartial and technical analysis of how the Conventions are applied in law and practice by member States, while cognizant of different national realities and legal systems. In doing so, it must determine the legal scope, content and meaning of the provisions of the Conventions. Its opinions and recommendations are non-binding, being intended to guide the actions of national authorities. They derive their persuasive value from the legitimacy and rationality of the Committee’s work based on its impartiality, experience and expertise. The Committee’s technical role and moral authority is well recognized, particularly as it has been engaged in its supervisory task for more than 90 years, by virtue of its composition, independence and its working methods built on continuing dialogue with governments taking into account information provided by employers’ and workers’ organizations. This has been reflected in the incorporation of the Committee’s opinions and recommendations in national legislation, international instruments and court decisions” (1).
Established practice on the selection and appointment of members of the CEACR
The members of the CEACR are distinguished legal experts drawn from the world’s various legal traditions, so as to give the CEACR the benefit of first-hand experience of different legal, economic and social systems. They are appointed by the Governing Body on the recommendation of its Officers, upon the proposal of the Director-General.
The criteria and procedure for appointment to the CEACR have enjoyed a degree of continuity, although the number of experts and the geographical balance they represented have evolved rapidly in response to the increasing workload of the CEACR and the diversification of ILO membership. The selection and appointment of CEACR members are based on a number of criteria and include the following, in no particular order of priority:
- knowledge and awareness of the ILO;
- academic and legal standing;
- expertise in labour law, human rights law and international law;
- ability to accept the essentially administrative nature of the work combined with intellectual incisiveness;
- ability to contribute within the different economic and cultural context of countries;
- sensitivity and openness to the views of ILO tripartite constituents;
- ability to influence or add a dimension to ILO work in the country in which they live;
- ability to operate within the CEACR, possessing the necessary personal qualities for the working environment, considering the international context of the work;
- gender balance within the CEACR; and
- linguistic abilities.
These selection criteria are in line with the established international practice followed for the selection of experts serving on UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies.
- Treaty body members are independent, i.e. they serve in their personal capacity and are recognized as impartial.
- Treaty body members are recognized experts in the field of human rights and/or the field covered by the treaty.
- Treaty body members must be persons of high moral character.
- Due consideration should be given to equitable geographical participation in membership of the treaty bodies.
- Due consideration must also be given to ensuring balanced gender representation within each committee.
The selection criteria were fashioned with due regard to the particular nature of the CEACR and ILS. In the course of the adoption of the 1926 resolution, the Chairperson and Reporter of the Committee on Article 408 explained that the method of appointment of the members of the CEACR should be left to the Governing Body, but that they “should essentially be persons chosen on the ground of expert qualifications and on no other ground whatever” (2). As a general rule, the experts tend to be selected among senior judges and academics.
The CEACR is expected to function in full independence, objectivity and impartiality (3). From the very beginning, these principles were considered vital importance in ensuring that the Committee’s work enjoyed the highest authority and credibility and have been consistently upheld by the International Labour Conference and the Governing Body as the cornerstone of this Committee and the ILO supervisory system as a whole. Appointments to the CEACR have therefore always been made in a personal capacity of individuals who were recognized as impartial and had the required technical competence and independence. In order to safeguard this important attributes, the identification of suitable candidates has always been entrusted to the Director-General and the Office, since the Committee’s creation. The following selection process is implemented by the Office in a consistent and rigorous manner.
- As a first step, the Office proceeds with the identification of a pool of possible suitable candidates, based on the above-mentioned criteria, limited to eminent independent personalities of the highest technical calibre and moral integrity.
- Once sufficient information is gathered, the Office contacts the potential candidates and organizes interviews with those who express an interest.
- A summary of the interviews of all candidates is provided to the Director-General, who submits a report to the Officers of the Governing Body, with a commentary of each of the candidates interviewed.
- After consideration of the report, the Officers of the Governing Body select a candidate whose appointment they will be proposed to the Governing Body.
- Experts are appointed by the Governing Body for a renewable term of three years. The tenure is limited to a total of 15 years, representing a three-year term renewable four times.
The Governing Body has established similar processes for the appointment of other independent members of supervisory bodies such as the Chairperson of the Committee on Freedom of Association and the members of Commissions of Inquiry.
To know more about the CEACR and its mandate, see the dedicated page on the ILO website and its reports.
The comments of the CEACR on the fulfilment by member States of their standards-related obligations take the form of either observations or direct requests. Observations are generally used in more serious or long-standing cases of failure to fulfil obligations. They point to important discrepancies between the obligations under a Convention and the related law/and or practice of member States. They may address the absence of measures to give effect to a Convention or to take appropriate action following the requests by the CEACR. They may also highlight progress, as appropriate. Observations are reproduced in the CEACR annual report
, which is then considered by the CAS in June every year, and are available online in the NORMLEX database. Direct requests relate to more technical questions or requests for clarification of certain points when the information available does not enable a full appreciation of the extent to which the obligations are fulfilled. They are also used to provide comments on the first reports supplied by governments on the application of Conventions. Direct requests
are not published in the CEACR report, but are communicated directly to the government concerned and are available online in the NORMLEX database. At the end of its comments the CEACR indicates by footnotes cases in which, because of the nature of the problems encountered in the application of the Conventions concerned, it has deemed appropriate to ask the government to supply a report earlier than would otherwise have been the case (“single footnotes”) and, in some instances, to supply full particulars to the International Labour Conference at its next session (“double footnotes”). To know more about the comments of the CEACR, including the cases of progress where the CEACR expresses “satisfaction” or “interest” on specific issues related to the application of the ratified Conventions and the nature of the measures adopted by the governments concerned, see the CEACR reports
(Part: General report) on the ILO website.