The introduction to document CCPR/C/21/Rev.1 (General comments adopted by the Human Rights Committee under art. 40, para. 4, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; date: 19 May 1989) explains the purpose of the general comments as follows:
"The Committee so far has examined 77 initial reports, 34 second periodic reports and, in some cases, additional information and supplementary reports. This experience, therefore, now covers a significant number of the States which have ratified the Covenant, at present 87. They represent different regions of the world with different political, social and legal systems and their reports illustrate most of the problems which may arise in implementing the Covenant, although they do not afford any complete basis for a worldwide review of the situation as regards civil and political rights.
"The purpose of these general comments is to make this experience available for the benefit of all States parties in order to promote their further implementation of the Covenant; to draw their attention to insufficiencies disclosed by a large number of reports; to suggest improvements in the reporting procedure and to stimulate the activities of these States and international organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights. These comments should also be of interest to other States, especially those preparing to become parties to the Covenant and thus to strengthen the cooperation of all States in the universal promotion and protection of human rights."