Individual complaints

In accordance with resolution 2002/31, the Special Rapporteur responds to information received and considered to be reliable on alleged violations of the right to health, by writing to the Government concerned, either together with other special procedure mandates or independently, inviting comment on the allegation, seeking clarification, reminding the Government of its obligations under international law in relation to the right to health and requesting information, where relevant, on steps being taken by the authorities to redress the situation in question. The Special Rapporteur urges all Governments to respond promptly to his communications and, in appropriate cases, to take all steps necessary to redress situations involving the violation of the right to health.

Communications of the Special Rapporteur address allegations of human rights violations received, regarding:

  • past human rights violations – which can be the object of a letter of allegation;
  • on-going or potential human rights violation – which can be the object of an urgent appeal;
  • concerns relating to bills, legislation, policies or practices that do not comply with international human rights law and standards.

Submitting Individual Complaints

In order for a complaint to be assessed, the following information is needed:

  • Who is the alleged victim(s) (individual(s), community, group, etc.;
  • Who is the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation; please provide substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication (this information will be kept confidential); as a general rule, the identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential. When submitting information please indicate whether there are any of the submitted information which you would like to remain confidential and not be disclosed in a public report.
  • Date, place and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or the violation;
    the information submitted can refer to violations that are said to have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. Information should include the legal remedies, if any, taken at the national level or regional level, and any other relevant information on the various aspects of the case. Some background information about the context where the incidents/violations occurred is always useful and can help the Special Rapporteur better assed the case/ situation being presented.  
  • Informed consent of the alleged victim(s); sources should provide the consent of the alleged victim(s) or of a close relative or legal representative indicating that they know and agree that the information on their case be submitted to the Special Rapporteur and they understand the consequences of a possible action by the mandate-holder.

As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated are not considered. Communications should describe the facts of the incident and the relevant details referred to above clearly and concisely. The information should be submitted by any person or group of persons claiming to be victim of violations and/or to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations.

Submitting complaints on right to health-related legislation, policy and institutional frameworks
The Special Rapporteur also sends letters to States on right to health –related legislative, policy, institutional frameworks that do not comply with international standards.  This includes letters related to international cooperation and transnational agreements, including trade and investment agreements.

Communications or information about cases/situations can now be submitted through an on-line form available at https://spsubmission.ohchr.org/

Use of the online form is highly recommended. However, a complaint can be submitted by:

E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
or Postal mail: OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10


Communications from the Special Rapporteur to a government are confidential at an initial stage.  Since September 2011, Special Procedures mandate-holders submit a joint report on communications to each regular session of the Human Rights Council. These periodic reports include short summaries of allegations communicated to States or other entities, with hyperlinks to the text of the communications sent and full responses received.

It is important for the Special Rapporteur to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints submitted to enable him/her to continue to follow-up on the issue through his/her dialogue with the involved Parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to consider the response made by Government and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Special Rapporteur.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.