19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
© UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre
The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. As of 7 October 2020, there are 44
thematic and 11
With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), special procedures undertake
country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending
communications to States and others in which they bring alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene
expert consultations, contribute to the development of international human rights standards, engage in advocacy, raise public awareness, and provide advice for technical cooperation. Special procedures
report annually to the Human Rights Council; the majority of the mandates also
reports to the General Assembly. Their tasks are defined in the resolutions creating or extending their mandates.
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What special procedures have accomplished in 2018 at a glance
annual report of special procedures for 2018 provides information on the system as a whole and its achievements during the year. An
addendum to the report contains ‘facts and figures’ for the period with infographics and pertinent analysis. While containing a comprehensive overview of activities undertaken during 2018 including country visits, communications, thematic reporting, follow-up activities, and engagement with other actors including through its Coordination Committee, the report goes beyond. It highlights contributions made both individually and as a system towards the development of international standards and advocacy, the prevention and early warning capacity of special procedures as well as their engagement with the General Assembly, Security Council or Peacebuilding architecture of the United Nations. It informs on the degree of cooperation by the States with the Special Procedures system, noting some encouraging trends while expressing concerns about reprisals against those who cooperated with the system and ad hominem attacks against some Mandate Holders for carrying out their work. The report also reflects the work of the Coordination Committee as well as covers the main issues discussed at the twenty-fifth annual meeting of special procedures of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 4 to 8 June 2018.
Cooperation with the special procedures and acts of intimidation and reprisals
Engagement of individuals and groups with the special procedures without fear of reprisal is essential for the fulfilment of their mandates, as established by the Human Rights Council. Therefore addressing acts of intimidation and reprisal against those who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the special procedures or any other part of the United Nations system in the field of human rights is a priority for mandate holders. As a result of the growing attention given to this phenomenon and the increasing instances of intimidation and reprisals observed by mandate holders, they agreed during the 22nd Annual Meeting of Special Procedures, held in June 2015, to consolidate and enhance special procedures' response to this unacceptable practice by establishing a coherent framework for action. More information on the issue of reprisals and this framework can be found