Engage with UN Human Rights Mechanisms

Special Procedures | Special Rapporteur on Iran | Treaty Bodies and Human Rights Council | Universal Periodic Review | Supplemental Material

Individuals and civil society play an integral role in monitoring and reporting human rights violations. Civil society generally constitutes human rights defenders, relatives of victims, human rights organizations, issue-based organizations, coalitions and networks, faith-based groups, and many others. These actors and individuals can, and should, bring human rights violations to the attention of UN Treaty Bodies–the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Committee of the ICCPR, and Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights–and Special Procedures. By doing so, these actors give a voice to the powerless, particularly in venues that may be out of victims’ reach.

With the hope of greater engagement in mind, the resources below aim to familiarize individuals and groups with the UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures and to assist in reporting human rights violations. The OHCHR Guide Book linked below provides comprehensive information about UN Human Rights Mechanisms and how civil society can engage with them.


Civil Society HandbookCivil Society Handbook, information to better acquaint civil society with UN mechanisms Director of Special ProceduresDirectory of Special Procedures, contact information for all Special Rapporteurs
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UN Special Procedures

To submit complaints to UN special procedures, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Special Rapporteurs, visit OHCHR’s website. The questionnaire table is also available below.

Mandate English French Spanish
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Working Group on the use of mercenaries Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Questionnaire
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on the question of torture Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Questionnaire
Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Questionnaire Questionnaire Cuestionario

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and OHCHR’s Iran Officer

To submit complaints, in English or Persian, to the Special Rapporteur on Iran and OHCHR’s Iran Officer email contactus@shaheedoniran.org or sr-iran@ohchr.org.

These submissions can also be made to the High Commissioner’s Office by emailing nahmed@ohchr.org or mailing to this address:

OHCHR-LogoOHCHR- Palais Wilson
United Nations office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Please include, at minimum, the below information:

Basic personal information on the person whose human rights have allegedly been violated (name, nationality, date of birth)
Name of the State party against which the complaint is directed
Proof of consent or authorization, in hard copy, if the complaint is on someone’s behalf (also called “power of attorney”)
A thorough account of the facts in chronological order
Details of steps taken to exhaust all judicial remedies, and administrative remedies that may be available in State concerned
Details of any other submissions of the case and the facts involved
Account of why the facts in the case amount to a violation based on provisions of the treaty–with relevant articles noted
All documents relevant to the claims and arguments (court decisions, etc.)
Copies of relevant national laws, where available


UN Treaty Bodies and Human Rights Council

Complaints to UN Treaty Bodies must include which human rights treaty body you are writing to; a list is available here. To submit complaints to these bodies, email tb-petitions@ohchr.org or write to this address:

OHCHR-LogoPetitions Team
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8–14, avenue de la Paix
CH–1211 Geneva 10 – Switzerland
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 90 22 (particularly for urgent matters, submit hard copies)

When writing or emailing, use the checklist below to ensure your submission includes all required information:

Basic personal information on the person whose human rights have allegedly been violated (name, nationality, date of birth)
Name of the State party against which the complaint is directed
Proof of consent or authorization, in hard copy, if the complaint is on someone’s behalf (also called “power of attorney”)
A thorough account of the facts in chronological order
Details of steps taken to exhaust all judicial remedies, and administrative remedies that may be available in State concerned
Details of any other submissions of the case and the facts involved
Account of why the facts in the case amount to a violation based on provisions of the treaty–with relevant articles noted
All documents relevant to the claims and arguments (court decisions, etc.)
Copies of relevant national laws, where available

As a general rule, communications containing abusive language are not considered.

To submit complaints to the Human Rights Council, visit the Complaint Procedure page.

If your complaint meets the criteria, fill out the complaint procedure form and email it to <mailto:cp@ohchr.org>CP@ohchr.org or mail to this address:

Complaint Procedure Unit
Human Rights Council Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11


Universal Periodic Review (2014 submission deadline passed)

To submit information for possible inclusion in OHCHR’s submission to a Universal Periodic Review, or those submitting for a country’s UPR, email: UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org. Requirements for submission begin on page 8 of the Technical Guidelines document, available here.


Supplemental Material

Learn more about efforts to strengthen Treaty Bodies and the impact of Special Procedures in the policy brief and policy report below.

Strengthening Treaty BodiesThe Outcome of the General Assembly’s Treaty Body Strengthening Process Impact of Special ProceduresHuman Rights Special Procedures: Determinants of Influence
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