UPR and Special Procedures

What are the Special Procedures?

The Special Procedures (SP) are independent human rights experts with mandates to investigate, report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. They can be  an individual -  a “Special Rapporteur” or an “Independent Expert” -  or a working group composed of five  members, one from each UN Regional Group.  The system of special procedures can cover all human rights themes: civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights. 

With the support of OHCHR, Special Procedures mandate-holders conduct the following activities: 

  • Undertake country visits (at the invitation of UN Member States);
  • Act on individual cases of reported violations and concerns by sending communications to States, or occasionally, to non-State actors;
  • Develop human rights standards and guidelines;
  • Conduct annual thematic studies, seek information from calls for input and convene expert consultations; 
  • Engage in advocacy, raise public awareness, and provide advice for technical cooperation.

All mandate-holders report annually to the HRC and can issue recommendations to States under review. 

UPR and Special Procedures

Unlike the Treaty bodies and the UPR, the Special Procedures are not cyclical in nature.  Moreover, not all UN Member States are examined by mandate-holders. Special Procedures are the most suited mechanism to address urgent issues, as they are the only UN Human Rights mechanism that can issue urgent appeals.

Within the framework of the Special Procedures, mandate-holders collect information on the human rights situation from various stakeholders, including civil society organisations. They  also issue recommendations and calls for action, to  which States are summoned  to reply or provide information. Currently, there are fourty-five thematic and thirteen country mandates. Therefore, many Special Procedure mandates can overlap with UPR recommendations.

How you can integrate outcomes from the Special Procedures into your UPR work

At all stages of the UPR, when reporting on, advocating, or monitoring one or more UPR recommendations covering a specific human rights issue, you should integrate and refer to relevant recommendations stemming from the Special Procedures. This will add weight to your UPR work and avoid duplication.  

HRM diagram

For example:

  • When drafting a UPR report or mid-term report, mention whether Special Procedure mandate-holders visited the country under review and issued specific calls for actions/ recommendations; 
  • When advocating a particular human rights issue, make sure you check whether this issue was also raised by Special Procedure mandate-holders;
  • When monitoring UPR recommendations, include any similar recommendations made by Special Procedure mandate-holders.