Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

Introduction

19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX © UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre
19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
© UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. As of 1 August 2017, there are 44 thematic and 12 country mandates.

With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), special procedures undertake country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States and others in which they bring alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations, contribute to the development of international human rights standards, engage in advocacy, raise public awareness, and provide advice for technical cooperation. Special procedures report annually to the Human Rights Council; the majority of the mandates also reports to the General Assembly. Their tasks are defined in the resolutions creating or extending their mandates.
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What special procedures have accomplished in 2017 at a glance

The latest annual report of special procedures and its addendum which covers the period from 1 January to 31 December 2017, provides updated information on the system of special procedures as a whole and its achievements, including facts and figures. These facts and figures form a separate addendum. It gives a comprehensive overview of the activities undertaken by special procedures in 2017, both individually and as a system, including country visits, communications, thematic reports, follow-up activities, engagement with other actors, development of international standards and advocacy. The report also reflects the work of the Coordination Committee as well as covers the main issues discussed at the twenty-third annual meeting of special procedures of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 27 to 30 June 2017. The report goes beyond a listing of activities, it also shows that special procedures work as a system, coordinate with each other, undertake joint activities, reach out to multiple stakeholders at the national, regional and international level and aim at feeding other UN processes with their recommendations.”

Cooperation with the special procedures and acts of intimidation and reprisals

Engagement of individuals and groups with the special procedures without fear of reprisal is essential for the fulfilment of their mandates, as established by the Human Rights Council. Therefore addressing acts of intimidation and reprisal against those who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the special procedures or any other part of the United Nations system in the field of human rights is a priority for mandate holders. As a result of the growing attention given to this phenomenon and the increasing instances of intimidation and reprisals observed by mandate holders, they agreed during the 22nd Annual Meeting of Special Procedures, held in June 2015, to consolidate and enhance special procedures' response to this unacceptable practice by establishing a coherent framework for action. More information on the issue of reprisals and this framework can be found here.


Directory of Special Procedures Mandate Holders

November 2017
English
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Annual Fact and Figures 2013


Annual Fact and Figures 2013

English
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Civil Society Handbook


Civil Society Handbook

Click here Chapter VI - Special Procedures and the Full handbook here (PDF, 1,28MB)

UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)


UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)

UPR recommendations  (PDF, 1,73MB)

Videos


21st Century Episode 111 - Human Rights in North Korea; and a holocaust survivor tells his story,
13 May 2016

 

 

Human rights… Who is watching?

The UN Human Rights Council has a group of experts who carry out visits worldwide to monitor and report on a wide range of human rights violations, reflect on different human rights issues and advocate for protection. They are the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, and for them it’s all about the people.

Transcript in Word

 

Film on Juan Mendez

I am a survivor of torture myself.

As a human rights lawyer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, has dedicated over 40 years to ending torture.

Transcript in Word

 

Visit of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Central African Republic -- Central African Republic, February 2015

 

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation -- Brazil, December 2013

 

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on truth -- Uruguay, October 2013

 

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children -- Italy, September 2013

 


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Feature stories

 

Feature stories about the Special Procedures of the
Human Rights Council.
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Contact us


Postal address:
Special Procedures Division
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Fax : +41 22 917 90 08

In Focus :

> Philippines – Government’s “terror list” - UN Rapporteur on indigenous peoples declared non-party – development welcomed by the Chair of the Coordination Committee while recalling serious concern about such an unacceptable attack against a mandate holder

> Letter of the Coordination Committee to the Consultative Group on the selection process of special procedures mandate holders, 16 July 2018

> Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups held their 25th annual meeting in Geneva from 4 to 8 June 2018

> During their Annual Meeting, special procedures mandate holders  have elected a new Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, Mr. Dainius Puras

> The Coordination Committee of SP shared information about the work of SP that is deemed pertinent for the Security Council – March 2018

Open letter of special procedures on the Global Compact on Migration

> Letter of the Coordination Committee to the Consultative Group on the selection process of special procedures mandate holders, 8 May 2018

Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Chair of the Coordination Committee, presents the Annual Report of Special Procedures to the 37th session of the HRC, 14 March 2018 Statement / Report and addendum

Accusations against UN expert a retaliation by Philippines, say fellow rapporteurs

>Statement of the Coordination Committee on the loss of Ms. Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran  

> Letter of the Coordination Committee to the Consultative Group on the selection process of special procedures mandate holders, 5 January 2018

> Statement of the Special Procedures on the occasion of Human Rights Say 2017: “The inseparability of peace, security, development and human rights

> Statement of the Coordination Committee at the 27th Special Session on the human rights situation of the minority Rohingya Muslim population and other minorities in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, 5 December 2017

> Letter of the Coordination Committee to the Consultative Group on the selection process of special procedures mandate holders, 1 November 2017

> Forthcoming country visits

 

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For further information on how to submit communications on alleged human rights violations, please read the webpage on Communications and send your submission to: submissions to Special Procedures.