In its year 2000 session, the Commission on Human Rights asked the Secretary-General to establish a mandate on human rights defenders. The Commission’s intention was to give support to implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders and also to gather information on the actual situation of human rights defenders around the world (see resolution 2000/61 establishing the mandate).

In August 2000, Ms Hina Jilani was named by the Secretary General as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders. Her mandate was renewed by the Commission in 2003 (resolution 2003/64) and by the Human Rights Council in 2007 (resolution 5/1). In 2008, with resolution 7/8, and in 2011, with resolution 16/5, the Human Rights Council, decided to renew the mandate on human rights defenders for a period of three years. In March 2008, the Human Rights Council appointed Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The mandate on human rights defenders is broad and stipulates that the Special Rapporteur’s main roles are:

  • seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders;
  • establish cooperation and conduct dialogue with governments and other interested actors on the promotion and effective implementation of the Declaration;
  • recommend effective strategies better to protect human rights defenders and follow up on these recommendations;
  • integrate a gender perspective throughout her work

In its resolution, the Human Rights Council urges all governments to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and to provide all information requested. Governments are also urged to implement and follow-up on her recommendations.

In the fulfillment of the mandate, the mandate holder:

  • Presents annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on particular topics or situations of special importance regarding the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders (See Annual reports);
  • Undertakes country visits (see Country visits);
  • Take up individual cases of concern with Governments (see Submitting complaints)