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Purpose of the Fund

The Special Fund of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture presents a unique opportunity to further torture prevention.

It supports:

  • projects implementing recommendations of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) after a country visit; and
  • educational programmes of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs).

The Fund’s main focus is to support the National Preventive Mechanisms. State parties of the Optional Protocol are obliged to designate NPMs within one year of entry into force of the Protocol for them. They often need support in establishing independent and efficient NPMs.

NPMs regularly visit places of deprivation of liberty, examine treatment of people held there, identify risks of torture and ill-treatment, and recommend to respective authorities how to address those risks. Properly functioning NPMs are vital for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.

The Fund was established in 2011 pursuant to article 26 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. The Fund is managed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the advice of the SPT.

How the Fund works

The Special Fund relies entirely on voluntary contributions. Contributing to the Fund helps to prevent torture through tailored action on the ground. The Special Fund accepts donations from Governments, inter-governmental organizations and private entities, including companies, foundations, non-governmental organizations and individuals.

Calls for applications are open annually from 1 January to 1 March. Applications can be submitted by State parties, NPMs, non-governmental organizations and National Human Rights Institutions. Eligibility to apply for grants is limited to projects in countries where SPT visit reports have been made public or to NPMs applying for educational programmes.

Impact of the Fund

The projects supported by the Fund have had a major impact in eleven countries in four regions, including:

  • Legislative and policy changes, such as adoption of the revised Code of Criminal Procedure in Benin, the Prison Act in Honduras and the law prohibiting abusive body search for persons deprived of their liberty in Brazil.
  • Institutional changes, such as the development of a registry of detainees in Paraguay and an improved form for medical and legal examination of torture and ill-treatment, in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, in hospitals in the Maldives.
  • Changes in peoples’ lives, such as the release of 49 remand detainees held without justification in Benin.

Key documents

Flyer of the Fund [PDF]

Thematic Fact Sheet of the Fund [PDF] 

Latest reports

Special Fund Report of the Secretary-General (2023): This report covers the activities of the Special Fund between 1 January and 30 November 2023. View document A/HRC/55/33 

Special Fund Report of the Secretary-General (2022): This report covers the activities of the Special Fund between 1 January and 30 November 2022. View document A/HRC/52/58

Contact information

United Nations Special Fund, OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix 1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland Email: [email protected] Tel: (41) 22917595474