Reporting human rights violations to UN Special Procedures: An introductory guide


Special Procedures is the name given to the mechanisms established by the UN Human Rights Council to address country or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

These can be Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts or Working Groups, which are mandated by the Human Rights Council to examine, monitor, advise and publicly report on cases of human rights violations.

Civil society representatives and human rights activists can interact directly with UN Special Procedures by:

  • submitting individual cases of human rights abuses;
  • providing information and analysis on specific concerns;
  • working locally to advocate, disseminate and follow up on the work of UN Special Procedures;
  • working closely with other civil society actors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground; and
  • partnering/networking with NGOs based in Geneva.

The following guide is intended to help you bring human rights cases to the UN Special Procedures mechanisms to help protect and promote human rights in your countries. While the operation and structures of the UN are complex, the first steps to use the UN Special Procedures are straightforward.

What’s in the tool

This introductory guide aims to provide a simple, useful introduction for non-experts.

  • Section 1 explains what UN special procedures are and how they can assist human rights defenders and NGOs.
  • Section 2 explains how to report human rights abuses to UN Special Procedures.
  • Section 3 shows how local expertise can be used to strengthen UN Special Procedures cases.
  • Section 4  explores the risks, limitations and benefits of reporting to the UN Special Procedures.


Download the guide in English or Russian