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Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

General Remarks

The special procedures are state-mechanisms and thematic-mechanisms created temporarily to keep or promote a certain situation. These could be Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General or Working Groups. If they do not propose a formal procedure of filing and examination of complaints, they act on the basis of communications  received from different sources, for example from victims, their parents, local and international NGOs, etc. which disclose violations of human rights. These communications can be submitted in every manner (for example via letter, fax and telegram) and can involve both individual and collective cases. The submission for special procedures does not hinder the reference to a conventional committee.

The inquiries must always comply with the following minimum criteria:

  • It must identify the supposed victim(s), the violator and the persons submitting the inquiry (anonymous inquiries are thus not accepted)
  • It has to give a detailed description of the circumstances under which the alleged violation took place.

The applied thematic-mechanism might require other details of the specific alleged violation.

Each person in charge of a special procedure submits a report to the Human Rights Council each year. Complaints addressed directly to a special procedure on grounds of a violation corresponding to the mandate of this procedure should not be rejected solely because the concerned State has not ratified a convention referring to the issue in question. Therefore, every State can be affected by the special procedures.

A questionnaire has been established by multiple thematic-mechanisms to facilitate the examination of alleged violations. It is available to persons willing to call attention to cases of violation presumed to these mechanisms. Moreover, certain Rapporteurs per country can revert to the questionnaires to facilitate their work, especially for field surveys. However, the inquiries will be examined anyway, even if they are not submitted in the form of a questionnaire.

The Working Groups, the Representatives of the Secretary-General and Rapporteurs then examine the requests and decide, if they regard it as necessary, to inform the States concerned in form of a communication, a letter of allegation (in case of violations which reputedly have already taken place and which would have irreversible consequences for the supposed victims), an urgent appeal (for current or imminent violations) or a press statement.

All current Special Procedures by Thematic Mandate:

More about Special Procedures by Country Mandate.

United Nations’ manual of the special procedures:

Last change: 19.01.10 - 12:51