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Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council


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 October 2013 there are 37 thematic and 14 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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Visual Directory

Directory of Special Procedures Mandate Holders

Special Procedures Visual Directory Accessible 
From 10 October 2013
English | French | Spanish
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Annual Fact and Figures 2013

Annual Fact and Figures 2013

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Civil Society Handbook

Civil Society Handbook

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






Final remarks SR, ID on Violence and the Sale of Children
- 25th Meeting, Human Rights Council, 08 March 2012
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Feature stories

High Commissioner for Human Rights - UN Photo

Feature stories about the Special Procedures of the
Human Rights Council.
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Israeli settlers in Hebron
“Israeli settlers must be stopped from taking over Al-Rajabi House in Hebron,” urges the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk.

Children's rights
UN child rights experts hail a new treaty now in force that allows children to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about alleged violations of their rights.

Action on military spending
On the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, UN expert Alfred de Zayas urges all Governments to proactively inform the public about military expending and to justify it.

Urgent appeal to Iran
UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to halt immediately the execution of an Iranian woman reported to be scheduled for tomorrow.

"A hurtful reminder"
‘Redskins’ Team mascot is a hurtful reminder of past suffering of Native Americans in the US – UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya.

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Contact us:

Postal address:
Special Procedures Division
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10

Fax : +41 22 917 90 08

For further information on how to submit communications on alleged human rights violations, please read the webpage on Communications and send your submission to: urgent-action@ohchr.org.