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 can take various forms including:

a) Urgent appeals which are used in cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by the procedure of allegation letters.

b) Allegation letters which are used to communicate information about violations that are said to have already occurred or in cases not covered by urgent appeals.

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.
  • 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.

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. The Special Rapporteur is open to receiving communications under any format (a model questionnaire has not yet developed).

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 the government are confidential at an initial stage until the summary of the letters and the answer of the government are included in addendum 1 of the annual report submitted to the Human Rights Council. 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.