The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by resolution 1991/42 of the former Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate was clarified and extended by Commission’s resolution 1997/50. The mandate was extended for a further three-year period by resolution 15/18 of 30 September 2010.
(a) To investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or otherwise inconsistently with the relevant international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the relevant international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned;
(b) To seek and receive information from Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and receive information from the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives;
(c) To act on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and to bring to their attention these cases;
(d) To conduct field missions upon the invitation of Government, in order to understand better the situations prevailing in countries, as well as the underlying reasons for instances of arbitrary deprivation of liberty;
(e) To formulate deliberations on issues of a general nature in order to assist States to prevent and guard against the practice of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and to facilitate consideration of future cases;
(f) To present an annual report to the Human Rights Council presenting its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Furthermore, the Human Rights Council encourages the Working Group in fulfilling its mandate:
(a) To work in cooperation and dialogue with all those concerned by the cases submitted to it, and in particular with States that provide information which should be given due consideration;
(b) To work in coordination with other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, with other competent United Nations bodies and with treaty bodies, bearing in mind the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in such coordination, and to take all necessary measures to avoid duplication with those mechanisms, in particular regarding the treatment of the communications it receives and field missions;
(c) To carry out its task with discretion, objectivity and independence.