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Country and visits of Special Procedures

Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Mr. James Anaya, visiting indigenous peoples in the Likouala District, Republic of Congo © OHCHR photo

Mandate-holders carry out country visits to assess the situation of human rights at the national level : at the request of a mandate-holder, the Government will send an invitation for a fact-finding mission. Some countries have issued standing invitations, which means that they are, in principle, prepared to receive a visit from any thematic mandate-holder.

During such missions, the experts assess the general human rights situation in a given country, as well as the specific institutional, legal, judicial, administrative and de facto situation under their respective mandates. They will meet with national and local authorities, including members of the judiciary and parliamentarians; members of the national human rights institution, if applicable; non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and victims of human rights violations; the UN and other inter-governmental agencies; and the press when giving a press-conference at the end of the mission.

Country visits’ findings, conclusions and recommendations by special procedures are published  in mission reports to the Human Rights Council (All special procedures country-related information can also be found in the Universal Human Rights Index.

Terms of Reference for Fact-finding missions by Special Procedures

The terms of reference for country visits were adopted at the fourth Annual Meeting of Special Procedures ( E/CN.4/1998/45) and are intended to guide Governments in the conduct of the visit. During missions, Special Procedures mandate-holders and United Nations staff accompanying them, should be given the following guarantees and facilities by the Government that invited them to visit its country:

(a) Freedom of movement in the whole country, including facilitation of transport, in particular to restricted areas;
(b) Freedom of inquiry, in particular as regards:

(i) Access to all prisons, detention centres and places of interrogation;
(ii) Contacts with central and local authorities of all branches of government;
(iii) Contacts with representatives of non-governmental organizations, other private institutions and the media;
(iv) Confidential and unsupervised contact with witnesses and other private persons, including persons deprived of their liberty, considered necessary to fulfil the mandate of the special rapporteur; and
(v) Full access to all documentary material relevant to the mandate;

(c) Assurance by the Government that persons, whether officials or private individuals, who have been in contact with the special rapporteur/representative in relation to the mandate, will not, as a result, suffer threats, harassment or punishment or be subjected to judicial proceedings;
(d) Appropriate security arrangements without, however, restricting the freedom of movement and inquiry referred to above.

Related information


> Forthcoming country visits

> Country visits since 1998

> Standing invitations

> States not yet visited

Press releases on country visits


Mission to Hungary
UN expert Michel Forst will assess the challenges faced by human rights defenders and civil society in Hungary and explore ways to widen the democratic space (8-16 February 2016).


South Korea’s democracy
The Republic of Korea’s journey to democracy is still being threatened by a decline on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, UN expert Maina Kiai says.

Racial injustice in the US
The UN Working Group of experts on people of African descent calls on the US Government to address the legacies of the past, police impunity and racial injustice crisis.

Mission to Jordan
UN expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro will visit Jordan to assess the situation of trafficking of persons in the country, especially that of women, children, but also of men (28 Jan to 4 Feb).