International labour standards are universal instruments adopted by the international community and reflecting common values and principles on work-related issues while member States can choose whether or not to ratify any conventions, the ILO considers it important to keep track of developments in all countries, whether or not they have ratified them. Under article 19 of the ILO Constitution, member States are required to report at regular intervals, at the request of the Governing Body, on measures they have taken to give effect to any provision of certain conventions or recommendations, and to indicate any obstacles which have prevented or delayed the ratification of a particular convention.
On the basis of article 19, the Committee of Experts publishes an in-depth annual General Survey on member States' national law and practice, on a subject chosen by the Governing Body. These surveys are established mainly on the basis of reports received from member states and information transmitted by employers' and workers' organizations. They allow the Committee of Experts to examine the impact of conventions and recommendations, to analyse the difficulties indicated by governments as impeding their application, and to identify means of overcoming these obstacles.