Referring a matter to an international supervisory body
A national court may, in connection with a matter currently under consideration, refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the interpretation of EU law.
An appellant may in certain cases, after exhausting all national legal remedies, lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights or some other international supervisory body which receives individual complaints and whose jurisdiction Finland has accepted.
The European Union
The Court of Justice of the European Union consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal. Their main tasks include reviewing the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union and ensuring that the Member States implement and interpret EU law uniformly.
A matter concerning social rights is usually only investigated by the Court of Justice of the European Union when a national court refers to the Court a question on the interpretation of EU law in connection with a case pending at the national court.
A private individual may, for his or her part, lodge a complaint with the European Commission if the person considers that a Member State has not observed the provisions of EU law. A private individual may also submit a petition to the European Parliament or directly contact a Member of the European Parliament on a subject which comes within the jurisdiction of the European Union. In addition, a private person may lodge a complaint with the European Ombudsman if an institution of the European Union fails to act in accordance with the law, fails to respect the principles of good administration, or violates human rights.
The Council of Europe
All 47 Member States of the Council of Europe are parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. Compliance with the Convention is monitored by the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, 43 Member States (all except Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland) have ratified the European Social Charter or the revised Social Charter. Compliance with the Charter is monitored by the European Committee of Social Rights.
An appellant may lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights after having exhausted all national legal remedies. The European Committee of Social Rights does not, on the other hand, investigate individual complaints. Matters concerning social rights come up in the periodic reports of the Member States or they may be brought to the attention of the Committee through collective complaints.
The United Nations
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights in the 160 State Parties to the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee implements certain provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also in respect of social rights in its 165 State Parties.
Until the individual complaints mechanism of the ICESCR comes into force an individual may not lodge a complaint with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. For the time being, matters concerning social rights usually come before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights only if they come up in the periodic reports of the States Parties. However, an appellant may lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Committee, for instance, regarding the equality and fairness of the procedures concerning social rights.