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Overview of the mandate

At its fifty-fourth session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1998/33 of 17 April 1998, in which it decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur whose mandate will focus on the right to education.

As it is stated in this resolution, the main tasks which define the mandate are:

  • To report on the status, throughout the world, of the progressive realization of the right to education, including access to primary education, and the difficulties encountered in the implementation of this right, taking into account information and comments received from Governments, organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, other relevant international organizations and non-governmental organizations;
  • To promote, as appropriate, assistance to Governments in working out and adopting urgent plans of action, wherever they do not exist, to secure the progressive implementation, within a reasonable number of years, of the principle of compulsory primary education free of charge for all, bearing in mind, inter alia, levels of development, the magnitude of challenge and efforts by Governments;
  • To take into account gender considerations, in particular the situation and needs of the girl child, and to promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination in education;
  • To make his or her reports available to the Commission on the Status of Women whenever they concern the situation of women in the field of the right to education;
  • To develop a regular dialogue and discuss possible areas of collaboration with relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and international organizations in the field of education, inter alia, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and United Nations Development Programme and with international financial institutions, such as the World Bank;
  • To identify possible types and sources of financing for advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of access to primary education;
  • To ensure, to the extent possible, coordination and complementarity with the work carried out in the framework of Sub-Commission resolution 1997/7, in particular the working paper on the right to education by Mr. Mustapha Mehedi.

Moreover, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the assistance necessary for the execution of his/her mandate.

Between 1998 and 2005, the Commission recalled the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in several resolutions. It has been successively extended for a period of three years in 2001 and in 2004. Resolution 2004/25 which renewed the mandate, requested the Special Rapporteur:

  • To gather, request, receive and exchange information from all relevant sources, including Governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, on the realization of the right to education, and to make recommendations on appropriate measures to promote and protect the realization of the right to education;
  • To intensify efforts aimed at identifying ways and means to overcome obstacles and difficulties in the realization of the right to education;
  • To pursue the collaboration with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the dialogue with the World Bank;
  • To cooperate with other special rapporteurs, representatives, experts and members and chairpersons of working groups of the Commission, and United Nations bodies, including human rights treaty bodies;
  • To review the interdependence and interrelatedness of the right to education with other human rights;
  • To apply a gender perspective in his or her work.

Resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights

Session

Symbol

Title

Documents

54th
1998

E/CN.4/RES/1998/33

Question of the realization in all countries of the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and study of special problems which the developing countries face in their efforts to achieve these human rights

E F S

55th
1999

E/CN.4/RES/1999/25

Question of the realization in all countries of the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and study of special problems which the developing countries face in their efforts to achieve these human rights

E F S

56th
2000

E/CN.4/RES/2000/9

Question of the realization in all countries of the economic, social and cultural rights

E F S

57th
2001

E/CN.4/RES/2001/29

The right to education

E F S

58th
2002

E/CN.4/RES/2002/23

The right to education

E F S

60th
2004

E/CN.4/RES/2004/25

The right to education

E F S

61st
2005

E/CN.4/RES/2005/21

The right to education

E F S

 

In June 2006, the Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the Human Rights Council pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/251. On 18 June 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 5/1 which extended the mandate. The Council also adopted resolution 5/2, containing a Code of Conduct for special procedures mandate holders.

In June 2008, the Human Rights Council reviewed and extended for a period of three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education in resolution 8/4. In this resolution, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur:

  • To gather, request, receive and exchange information from all relevant sources, including Governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, including non-governmental organizations, and other concerned stakeholders, on the realization of the right to education on and obstacles limiting effective access to education, and to make recommendations on appropriate measures to promote and protect the right to education;
  • To intensify efforts aimed at identifying ways and means to overcome obstacles and difficulties in the realization of the right to education;
  • To make recommendations that could contribute to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, and in particular of development goals 2 and 3, and of the goals of the Education for All initiative agreed upon at the World Education Forum;
  • To integrate a gender perspective in all of his work;
  • To review the interdependence and interrelatedness of the right to education with other human rights;
  • To cooperate with the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, other special rapporteurs, representatives, experts and members of working groups of the Human Rights Council, and other relevant United Nations bodies, including human rights treaty bodies, and regional organizations, as well as to pursue the dialogue with the World Bank;
  • To report to the Council on a yearly basis, in accordance with the Council’s programme of work, and to report yearly to the General Assembly on an interim basis.

In June 2011, the Human Rights Council reviewed and further extended three additional years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education in resolution 17/3. In this resolution, the Council requested all States to give full effect to the right to education by, inter alia, promoting equality of opportunity in education in accordance with their human rights obligations, including by:

  • Ensuring adequate legal protection of the right to education and its equal enjoyment;
  • Addressing multiple forms of inequality and discrimination in education through comprehensive policies;
  • Ensuring adequate resource allocation, including through the identification and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms;
  • Supporting national mechanisms that promote the realization of the right to education, such as national human rights institutions;
  • Increasing efforts to achieve the goals of the Education for All agenda and the commitments relating to education contained in the Millennium Development Goals and their review process, with a human rights-based approach;
  • Promoting a coordinated approach when considering follow-up to the concluding observations adopted by the United Nations human rights treaty bodies, the recommendations formulated by the special procedures and recommendations accepted within the universal periodic review process; and
  • Integrating a gender perspective in all policies and programmes relating to education with a view to eliminate gender disparities at all levels of education.

The resolution also requested the Special Rapporteur to take fully into account, in the discharge of his mandate, all provisions of Human Rights Council resolutions on the right to education.

Resolutions of the Human Rights Council


Session

Symbol

Title

Documents

5th
2007

A/HRC/RES/5/1

Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council

E F S

8th
2008

A/HRC/RES/8/4

The right to education

E F S C R

17th
2011

A/HRC/RES/17/3 The right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4 E F S A C R