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Internal advisory procedure for reviewing practices and working methods

Special Procedures

At the 14th annual meeting of the special procedure in June 2007, the Coordination Committee was tasked with developing and presenting a procedure to enhance the effectiveness and independence of the Special Procedures system and individual mandate holders. This involved drafting a mechanism for implementing the Code of Conduct and relevant documents such as the Manual of Operations. In the interim, the Coordination Committee was authorised to address any issues regarding mandate holders’ working methods. Subsequently, the Coordination Committee initiated discussions on methods of work and accountability, establishing an interim advisory procedure to assess practices and working methods.

At the 15th annual meeting in June 2008, mandate holders reviewed the interim procedure in light of recent developments and ratified the final Internal Advisory Procedure for reviewing practices and working methods.

The Code of Conduct, Manual of Operations and additional guidelines adopted by mandate holders form a comprehensive framework governing the work of the special procedures. The Coordination Committee plays a facilitating role in that context, engaging with stakeholders individually or collectively. In addition, the internal advisory procedure provides a more formal avenue for lodging complaints. Details about this procedure and how to use it are available here.

The way in which a request for advice or concern is brought to the attention of the Committee will determine how the outcome will be communicated. The requests fall in three categories:

  1. mandate holders seeking advice on contemplated activities;
  2. specific cases referred by States or other stakeholders; and
  3. cases highlighting policy or systemic issues that need to be addressed by the system.

Individual cases and questions may require a simple response or the provision of advice on the way forward, whereas requests concerning global working method issues may entail more time and consultations and may require discussion and decisions to be taken at the annual meeting.

The issues more recently raised included the following:

  1. Communications, including how stakeholders’ responses are taken into account by mandate holders, related press releases and the international framework guiding communications;
  2. Conflict of interest, including in relation to receipt of support from external stakeholders;
  3. Cooperation and coordination among mandates, be it between thematic mandates or between thematic and country mandates;
  4. Country visits, including procedures to agree to a visit, the respect of the terms of reference for country visits and the independence of the mandate holders in deciding which countries or territories to visit, in line with United Nations rules and regulations;
  5. Privileges and immunities for mandate holders, including in the context of participation in legal or parliamentarian proceedings;
  6. Personal attacks against mandate holders;
  7. Use of correct terminology to refer to States and territories.

Complaints or requests for advice related to the internal advisory procedure should be directed to the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures by writing to [email protected]. Stakeholders may approach the Committee in a formal bilateral meeting or in writing. The internal advisory procedure is confidential. Information about the outcomes of the procedure is available in the annual report on special procedures presented every year to the Human Rights Council.