International supervisory bodies
A national court may, in connection with a matter currently under consideration, pose a question to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. An appellant may in certain cases, after using all national legal remedies, lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights or some other international supervisory body which investigates 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 of the European Union, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal. Their main tasks include reviewing the legality of the Union’s actions and ensuring that the Member States apply and interpret the EU’s regulations, directives and other provisions uniformly.
A matter concerning social rights is usually only investigated by the Court of Justice of the European Union when a national court poses a question about a case pending at the national court.
A private individual may, for his or her part, lodge a complaint with the European Commission if he or she considers that a Member State has not followed 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 Treaty on Human Rights. Compliance with the Treaty is monitored by the European Court of Human Rights. Further, all 43 Member States (with the exception of Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland) have ratified the European Social Charter in its original or revised form. Compliance with the Charter is monitored by the European Committee of Social Rights.
An appellant may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if he or she has exhausted all of the avenues of appeal available in Finland.
The European Committee of Social Rights does not investigate individual complaints. Matters concerning social rights are identified either in the periodic reports of the Member States or they may be brought before the Committee through collective complaints.
The United Nations
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights in the states parties to the Covenant. In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee implements certain provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which emphasises freedoms, also in respect of social rights in its 193 states parties.
Some social rights are enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The realisation of social rights protected by the Convention in the 104 states parties is supervised by the CEDAW Committee, which may also review individual complaints.
Appellants can lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Committee, for instance, regarding the equality and fairness of the procedures concerning social rights. If an appellant believes that the case involves discrimination based on gender, the case may also be appealed to the CEDAW Committee.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also accepts complaints from private individuals.