Most international or regional human rights treaties provide for a monitoring mechanism, including a specific monitoring body with the following duties:
- examination of the periodic reports submitted by states, giving account of the implementation of the treaty in the state concerned;
- publication of General Comments that guide the interpretation of the treaties; and
- in some cases, investigation of individual or collective complaints.
The periodic reports on the implementation of each treaty are submitted at regular intervals according to a time frame set out in the treaty (every 1-5 years).
In addition to the regular reports, many treaty monitoring bodies have the right to request additional information on the implementation of the treaty in question.
The Finnish Government aims in its reporting at accuracy, transparency and compliance with the said time frames. Finland not only gives account of positive developments but also admits possible problems.
The Finnish Government encourages NGOs to actively participate in the human rights reporting to the international organisations.
- When a periodic report is prepared, NGOs are asked to provide their views on the information to be included in the report.
- At the drafting stage of the report, the representatives of interested NGOs are invited to a attend a discussion on the draft report before its finalisation.
NGOs are also encouraged to participate in the so called "shadow reporting", i.e. to send parallel reports to the human rights treaty monitoring bodies.
Periodic reports are examined by a committee or other treaty monitoring body as defined in each treaty.
Most committees organise oral hearings where a delegation of the government representatives answers the committee's questions concerning issues covered by the report and provides additional updated information on these issues. The delegation is chaired by a member of the unit of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in charge of the reporting. In addition, a member of the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament takes part in the work of the delegation.
Upon completing the examination of the periodic report, the treaty monitoring body publishes its recommendations for the Government. The Government, in response to the recommendations, reports on their implementation in its following report.
The recommendations are translated into the national languages of Finland and are disseminated widely among local and state authorities as well as NGOs. In addition, the recommendations are published on the Internet together with the periodic reports.