Ahead of the release of her next report due to be presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014, CIVICUS speaks to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights - Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona.
1) What is the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights?
My role is part of one of the so-called “United Nations special procedures”. Special Procedures are human rights monitoring mechanisms established by the UN Human Rights Council and endorsed to individual experts called “Special Rapporteurs”, “Independent Experts” or “Working Groups", whose common mandate is the investigation and reporting of human rights situations either in a specific territory (country mandates) or with regard to a phenomena of violations (thematic mandates).
The scope of the action of special procedures is truly universal: all the States of the world are monitored by these bodies and they cover civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. As mandate holders, we report on our activities and findings to the most important United Nations bodies dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. We also carry out country visits to investigate the situation of human rights in specific domestic contexts. We are independent, we serve in our personal capacity, and we do not receive salaries or any other financial compensation for our work.
2) How would you describe your working relationship with civil society and how can they make better use of your mechanism to advance human rights of vulnerable groups?
Creating linkages with civil society and using the mandate on extreme poverty as a platform for civil society issues is a definite priority for me as Special Rapporteur. I see immense value in collaborating with and taking up issues being pursued by civil society organisations and grassroots movements. I have enjoyed very productive working relationships with a number of civil society organisations to date, both with respect to my thematic reports and to my country missions, where collaboration with civil society is an essential element of a successful mission.