Cross-cutting Thematic Issues

Special Procedures mandate holders regularly address thematic issues of common interest through individual or joint actions. These issues include, for example, new technologies, the Sustainable Development Goals, migration, and climate change.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Through their thematic reports and other activities, Special Procedures mandate holders have often addressed the human rights impact of new technologies, such as robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, drones, and lethal autonomous weapon systems. In particular, mandate holders examine not only the challenges new technologies pose to international human rights but also how such technologies can be used to enhance the protection and promotion of those rights. In addition to holding expert consultations with States and other stakeholders on this important issue, they also create guidance and provide recommendations to assist States with developing and implementing new technologies in a manner that complies with their international human rights obligations.

A non-exhaustive compilation of Special Procedures reports relevant to new technologies can be found here.

2030 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs)

Special Procedures mandate holders have been actively involved in both the development and implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The 2030 Agenda places people at its center and strives to leave no one behind through 17 cross-cutting SDGs, and it recognizes that respect for all human rights, including the right to development, is essential to building a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable world for everyone. Several mandate holders have advocated for including human rights in the SDGs from their inception. In addition, as requested by several Human Rights Council resolutions or on their own initiative, many mandate holders have used their thematic reports, country visit reports, and other activities to promote and assist States as well as other stakeholders with the implementing the 2030 Agenda using a human rights-based approach.

A compilation of Special Procedures reports addressing the 2030 Agenda in general and each SDG 1 to 17 can be found at the links below:

MIGRATION

Special Procedures also engage on the thematic issue of migration in a cross-cutting manner as several thematic mandates are pertinent to this issue. Those mandate holders have been closely following and engaged in the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (GCM), which was adopted in Marrakech in December 2018 and then formally endorsed through a UN General Assembly resolution (A/RES/73/195). In particular, some mandate holders contributed to the negotiation of the GCM and participated in the 2018 adoption conference held in Marrakech. There was a consensus during the adoption conference that UN human rights mechanisms, including Special Procedures, should be involved in the implementation, review, and follow-up to the GCM.

At their 26th Annual Meeting held in June 2019, mandate holders examined concrete ways in they could engage with the UN Network on Migration, which was launched on 9 December 2018 with the objective to, among other things, “ensure effective, timely, coordinated UN system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow-up and review of the GCM”. In particular, mandate holders discussed how they could ensure that their findings and recommendations relevant to migration are mainstreamed in the implementation, follow-up and review of the GCM.

A non-exhaustive compilation of Special Procedures reports relating to migration can be found here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The human rights impact of climate change is a critical emerging issue that cuts across several Special Procedures mandates. Through their reports and other activities, mandate holders have consistently called for an enhanced human rights-based approach to effectively combat climate change and its impacts, such as accelerated rising sea-levels, costly extreme weather events, diminished food security, migration, increased air pollution, ecosystem destruction, biodiversity loss, and conflicts that undermine both human rights and sustainable development. Such an approach addresses climate change’s negative impact on, among others, the rights to life, water and sanitation, health, food, an adequate standard of living, housing, property, a healthy environment, culture, self-determination, and development. At the same time, it also integrates and promotes essential enabling rights, especially the rights to meaningful and informed participation, access to information, and access to remedies. By promoting a human rights based-approach that addresses climate change’s cross-cutting impact on human rights and empowers people, mandate holders seek to “spur stronger action” and promote “policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes” in international and national efforts to combat climate change (A/HRC/31/52). As just one example of Special Procedures’ cross-cutting engagement on this urgent issue, nine mandate holders issued a press release in advance of the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York calling on society to end its “addiction to fossil fuels” and to replace them with renewable energy alternatives.

A non-exhaustive compilation of Special Procedures reports concerning climate change can be found here.