A State Party to the ICCPR must submit an initial report one year after the ICCPR comes into force for that State.
Thereafter, the State Party must submit periodic reports at intervals dictated by the Human Rights Committee, usually every four or five years (article 40 of the ICCPR).
Article 40 of the ICCPR requires States Parties "to report on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognised herein and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights". The Human Rights Committee has stressed that the reporting process should be an opportunity to review administrative procedures as well as legislation. All relevant departments and bodies should be involved in the drafting of the report and, if possible, NGOs should also be consulted.
State reports often contain detailed information on the legislation and official procedures, but fail to describe the implementation of the Covenant in practice.
These reports also frequently lack an honest evaluation of the difficulties the State faces in implementing the rights guaranteed under the Covenant. In order to review the situation in a State completely and effectively the Human Rights Committee therefore needs additional information.
Information from NGOs is particularly useful as they provide a view from outside the system. NGO written submissions should try to undertake a systematic analysis of the extent to which law, policy and practice in the State party is in compliance with the rights enshrined in the Covenant.
The process of reporting should enable and encourage NGOs to review the human rights situation in the State, providing them with a structure for assessing developments and identifying priorities as well as as encouraging cooperation between NGOs and a chance to consider their work in the wider national context. The reporting process may also provide a framework for dialogue with the authorities.