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Communications procedure

Submitting information on alleged human rights abuses or violations to the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

In the framework of its mandate, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises receive information on alleged human rights abuses or violations and, where deemed appropriate, intervene directly with States, business enterprises and others on such allegations. Such intervention can relate to a human rights abuse or violation which has already occurred, is ongoing, or which has a high risk of occurring. The process involves sending a letter to the concerned States and business enterprises to draw their attention to the facts of the allegations made and the applicable international human rights norms and standards, in particular the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Communications sent and replies received remain confidential until they are published in joint communications reports submitted to each regular session of the Human Rights Council (in March, June and September). In certain situations, including those of grave concern, the Working Group may issue a public statement earlier.

The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 26/22 encourages all States, relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, treaty bodies and civil society actors, including non-governmental organizations, as well as public and private businesses to cooperate fully with the Working Group by responding to communications transmitted.

Communications of the Working Group deal with allegations in relation to cases involving or impacting on one or more individuals or a particular group. The Working Group also receives information related to concerns of a broader, structural nature, including related to laws, draft laws, or policies that may impact a large number of individuals.

Communications of the Working Group can take various forms including:

a) Urgent appeals which are used in cases where the alleged abuses or violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by the procedure of allegation letters.

b) Allegation letters which are used to communicate information about abuses or violations that are said to have already occurred or in cases not covered by urgent appeals.

The dialogue established with Governments and business enterprises through communications does not constitute a statement of facts on the part of the Working Group; it rather aims to encourage the Governments and business enterprises concerned to investigate the situation and take all necessary steps to provide redress, within their respective areas of obligations and responsibilities.

The information provided to the Working Group may well reflect cross-cutting issues and it might therefore send communications jointly with other Special Procedures mandate holders.

Guidelines for submitting allegations to the Working Group

Information can be submitted in English, French or Spanish by any person or group of persons claiming to be the victim or having reliable knowledge of the situation. The Working Group is open to receiving communications under any format. However communications should describe the facts and the relevant details clearly and concisely. As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated will not be considered.


The identity of a victim will always be included in any correspondence between the Working Group and State authorities. The Working Group cannot intervene without revealing the victim’s identity. The source of the information provided or the victim may request that the victim’s name is not included in public reports.

The identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential. When submitting information, the source may indicate whether there are any other information which should remain confidential.

Information to provide

For cases involving individuals or groups, the information should include, where applicable:

  • Who is submitting the information? (This information will be kept confidential). Please provide clear contact details and mention any affiliation to national/regional/international NGOs or human rights networks.
  • Who is theallegedvictim(s) (individual(s), community, group, etc.)?
  • Whether the consent of the victim(s) has been obtained. Are victims informed that if the Working Group or other UN special procedures take up the case, a letter concerning the alleged facts with the names of the alleged victims will be sent to the authorities?
  • Who is thealleged perpetrator(s) of the violation? Please provide substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Where, what and how the alleged abuse(s) /violation(s) took place (date, place and detailed description of the circumstances); the information submitted can refer to abuses or violations that are said to have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. Information should include the legal remedies, if any, taken at the national level or regional level, and any other relevant information on the various aspects of the case.

For cases involving laws and policies concerning business and human rights issues, the information should include, where applicable:

  • A summary of the draft law, law, or policy. With regard to draft or existing legislation, please list the problematic provisions in a clear manner. If possible, please provide a copy of the legislative text in the original language as well as in English, French or Spanish (if not the original language).

Submitting the Information — contact information

Anyone who wishes to submit information to the Working Group may do so in one of the following ways:

Via the following link to the "Submission of information to the Special Procedures" page (questionnaire):

Email: or

the Subject Line of the email should refer to the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
+41 22 917 90 06


Communications sent by the Working Group to Governments remain initially confidential until when these and the answers from Governments are included in the Communications Report of Special Procedures submitted three times a year to the Human Rights Council.

It is important for the Working Group to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints submitted to enable it to continue to follow-up on the issue through its dialogue with the involved Parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to examine the response made by the Government and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Working Group.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.