Special Procedures: Recommendations to strengthen State cooperation and combat reprisals


An ISHR submission to the 21st annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Council's Special Procedures makes a range of recommendations to increase State cooperation with the independent experts, and to protect those who provide information or communicate with them from intimidation or reprisals.

(Geneva) - The UN's independent human rights experts have an obligation to protect those who cooperate with the UN from acts of intimidation and reprisal and should be more active in publicly exposing and pursuing States which engage in such acts, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

In a submission to the annual meeting of the Special Procedure mandate holders of the Human Rights Council - which includes Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and members of Working Groups - ISHR also made a range of recommendations as to how the mandate holders could become more accessible and responsive to victims of human rights violations and promote better State cooperation with the Human Rights Council.

'The Special Procedure mandate holders play a crucial role in the promotion and protection of human rights at both the international and national levels,' said ISHR Director Phil Lynch.

'At the international level, their invaluable reports and input to the Human Rights Council provide that body with the independent expertise necessary to understand and respond effectively to both thematic and country issues. At the national level, their country missions can provide expert guidance to States as to domestic implementation of international human rights obligations, while their communications in relation to individual cases can give voice to victims and help ensure that national level human rights violations are exposed at the international level,' Mr Lynch said.

Regrettably, a recent report by the UN Secretary-General exposes that individuals and organisations continue to face intimidation and reprisals for cooperating with and submitting information to the Special Procedures, ranging from arbitrary detention to ill-treatment and even torture.

'The Special Procedures have a moral, legal and institutional obligation to protect those individuals and organisations who contribute to their work,' said Mr Lynch. 'In this regard, we urge the mandate holders to take all such preventative and precautionary measures as are necessary to reduce the risk of reprisals, and to play a more active role in investigating, following and and promoting accountability in cases of reprisals,' Mr Lynch said.

The ISHR submission also sets out a range of recommendations aimed at increasing the level of State cooperation with Special Procedure mandate holders.

'All States have an obligation to cooperate fully with the work of the UN Human Rights Council's Special Procedures,' said Michael Ineichen, ISHR's Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy. 'This obligation is particularly pertinent in the case of States that are members of the Human Rights Council and, as such, pledge to uphold the highest human rights standards and cooperate fully with the Council's mechanisms.'

'It is unacceptable that States, including Member States, fail to respond either promptly or substantively to communications from the Special Procedure mandate holders. In this regard, the ISHR submission makes a number of recommendations aimed to creating incentives for States to do so and raising political costs for continued non-cooperation'.

The submission has been made to the 21st annual meeting of Special Procedure mandate holders, which is taking place from 29 September to 3 October in Geneva. ISHR will also present the submission to the mandate holders at a private briefing on 1 October.

Contact: Michael Ineichen, ISHR, on m.ineichen@ishr.ch

Photo: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré (François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, addresses the UN Human Rights Council) 


  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • United Nations
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Human Rights Council