Advocacy statements

Opposition Threats to UN Special Procedures

  • Date / 2022
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 5: Human rights bodies and mechanisms

Oral statement

International Humanist and Ethical Union

51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council (12 September – 7 October 2022)

General Debate on Item 5: Human rights bodies and mechanisms


Mr President,

As independent human rights experts tasked by the UN to investigate and report on human rights situations around the world, the Special Procedures have an important role in progressing human rights norms and language and helping ensure promote equality and non-discrimination for all. Their function is key to the integrity of the UN’s human rights work.

Unfortunately however, Special Procedure mandate holders face on-going attacks from anti-rights actors, who seek to delegitimize their work in a number of ways. Disruptive techniques include: claiming that mandate holders are biased or not expert enough on a given subject; accusing mandate holders of exceeding the scope of their respective mandates; or arguing that work done by a mandate holder is duplicative of work being done by other UN bodies.

With these attacks, anti-rights actors seek to be able to continue their human rights violations with impunity, by discrediting the very independent experts with the power and knowledge to review and critique them. They are also used as a reason to call for the defunding of Special Procedures. Insufficient funding is already a serious challenge faced by Special Procedures.

The attack on special procedures should be seen in the context of a larger systemic anti-rights attack on the very content and structure of our human rights concepts and institutions.

We urge states to fully comply with their financial commitments to the UN, and to ensure special procedures are well financed, supported, and retain their independence. More broadly we call on the Council to recognise and counter the role of anti-rights actors in their attempts to undermine human rights, and the system charged with protecting them.

Thank you.

Suggested academic reference

'Opposition Threats to UN Special Procedures', Humanists International

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