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Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Purpose of the mandate

Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy, which allows individuals and groups to enjoy several other human rights and freedoms. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was created by the Human Rights Council to protect and promote freedom of opinion and expression, offline and online, in light of international human rights law and standards.

About the mandate

In 1993, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights established the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  
After replacing the Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council decided to extend the mandate for another three years in March 2008 (resolution 7/36). The mandate was renewed again for an additional three years in March 2011 (HRC resolution 16/4), March 2014 (resolution 25/2), March 2017(resolution 34/18), March 2020 (resolution 43/4) and March 2023 (resolution 52/9).

Learn more about the mandate

Current mandate holder

Irene Khan

Irene Khan was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression in June 2020 and is the first woman to hold this mandate. An internationally recognized advocate for human rights, gender equality and social justice, she was Secretary-General of Amnesty International from 2001 to 2009 and Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) from 2010 to 2019. Ms. Khan is affiliated with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and has been Consulting Editor of the Daily Star, Bangladesh’s largest English newspaper.

Read Ms. Khan’s full biography

Latest thematic reports

Contact Information

Ms. Irene Khan
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: [email protected]

Former mandate holders


Mr. David Kaye (United States of America)
August 2014 - July 2020

Mr. Frank William La Rue (Guatemala)
August 2008 - July 2014

Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo (Kenya)
August 2002 - July 2008

Mr. Abid Hussain (India)
April 1993 - July 2002