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Overview of the mandate

The Economic and Social Council decisions 16 (LVI) and 17 (LVI) of 17 May 1974 , established the Working Group on Slavery on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. The Working Group began its work in 1975 and was comprised of five independent experts of the Sub-Commission. The Working Group was formed to: monitor the application of the slavery conventions and review the situation in various parts of the world; develop and study a specific theme each year; and submit proposals for action at the national and international levels.

In September 2007, the Human Rights Council in resolution 6/14 established a new mandate on Contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences. This mandate provided for a Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery who would replace the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in order to better address the issue of contemporary forms of slavery within the United Nations system.

The Human Rights Council resolution 6/14 requests the Special Rapporteur to:

  • focus principally on aspects of contemporary forms of slavery, which are not covered by existing mandates of the Human Rights Council;
  • promote the effective application of relevant international norms and standards on slavery;
  • request, receive and exchange information on contemporary forms of slavery from Governments, treaty bodies, special procedures, specialized agencies, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations and other relevant sources, including on slavery practices and, as appropriate, and in line with the current practice, respond effectively to reliable information on alleged human rights violations with a view to protecting the human rights of victims of slavery and preventing violations;
  • recommend actions and measures applicable at the national, regional and international levels to eliminate slavery practices wherever they occur, including remedies which address the causes and consequences of contemporary forms of slavery, such as poverty, discrimination and conflict as well as the existence of demand factors and relevant measures to strengthen international cooperation;
  • give careful consideration to specific issues within the scope of the mandate and to include examples of effective practices as well as relevant recommendation;
  • take into account the gender and age dimensions of contemporary forms of slavery;
  • and cooperate fully and effectively with other existing human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies , including but not limited to the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children in armed conflict and the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants, as well as the Board of Trustees for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and take full account of their continuation and avoid duplication of their work;
  • propose measures and recommendations to combat and eradicate modern forms of slavery and slavery-like practice;
  • and to protect the human rights of victims of modern slavery.

On 29 September 2010, theHuman Rights Council adopted resolution 15/2 which extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years. Council resolution 24/3 of 26 September 2013 further renewed the mandate for three years.

Methods of work

In the discharge of the above functions, the Special Rapporteur will:

  • Carry out country visits in order to obtain firsthand information on the situation from officials, members of the civil society, and UN agencies. A report of these visits, highlighting findings, conclusions and recommendations, will be submitted to the Human Rights Council.
  • Act upon reliable information submitted on human rights violations, whether they have occurred or are deemed imminent.
  • Undertake research on a specific theme / phenomenon in relation to the mandate and provide the Human Rights Council with advise and specific recommendations in this regard.
  • Conduct advocacy and awareness raising to promote human rights with regard to slavery and to prevent slavery like practices from taking place.

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Ms. Urmila Bhoola
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: (+41) 22 917 90 06

E-mail: srslavery@ohchr.org or