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Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders was established in 2000 by the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/2000/61). It was later on extended by the Human Rights Council in 2011 (A/HRC/RES/16/5), 2014 (A/HRC/RES/25/18), 2017 (A/HRC/RES/34/5) and most recently in March 2020 for another three years by the March 2020 HRC decision 43/115 and the June 2020 Human Rights Council resolution 43/16.

The Special Rapporteur is mandated to:

  • Promote the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders in cooperation and constructive dialogue with governments and other actors
  • Study trends, developments and challenges on the right to promote and protect human rights;
  • Recommend effective strategies to better protect human rights defenders and follow up on these recommendations;
  • Seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders
  • · Integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate, with particular focus on women human rights defenders
  • Coordinate with other relevant UN entities, both at headquarters and at the country level, in particular with other special procedures
  • Report annually to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly

Working methods

In the discharge of these functions, the Special Rapporteur:

  • Presents annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the situation of human rights defenders and relevant trends, developments and challenges related to the right to promote and protect human rights.(See Annual thematic reports);
  • Undertakes fact-finding country visits upon the invitation of the Government, to examine the situation of human rights defenders and the right to defend rights. The Special Rapporteur submits a report of the visit to the Human Rights council, presenting their findings, conclusions and recommendations. (see Country visits);
  • Acts on information submitted to the Special Rapporteur regarding alleged violations and/or abuses of the human rights of human rights defenders by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned States and other relevant stakeholders to clarify and/or bring this information to their attention. (see Submitting complaints)
  • Engages with human rights defenders and civil society, States and other key actors such as businesses, regional intergovernmental organizations, and members of National Human Rights Institutions etc. through in person and virtual meetings, attending national, regional and international human rights events, workshops and conferences relevant for the mandate and during the sessions of the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

In its resolution on the mandate, 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 the Special Rapporteur's recommendations.