Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, resigned on Friday in a letter sent to the President of the Human Rights Council. The effective date of the resignation is 31 October 2017.

In the letter, Professor Muntarbhorn explains he has resigned for illness and family reasons. ILGA's thoughts are immediately with him and his family and we wish him health and support during what is no-doubt a difficult time.

The position of Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was created by the UN’s Human Rights Council in June 2016. Professor Muntarbhorn was appointed as the first such Independent Expert to this groundbreaking position in September 2016. In his one year of holding the position, Professor Muntarbhorn has finalised two initial reports: presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2017 and to the General Assembly, due to be presented in October 2017.

Professor Muntarbhorn was the keynote speaker at the ILGA World Conference in Bangkok in November 2016. In addition to his two reports, he has conducted a country visit to Argentina, engaged in consultations with governments, civil society and business, and responded to specific human rights situations of concern such as the situations in Honduras and Chechnya, and women’s rights and trans and gender diverse children and adolescents.

The process for appointing his successor – the standard procedure for appointing a UN “Special Procedures” expert – is expected to start in the coming days. The position will be advertised on the OHCHR’s website. Anybody may then apply for the position over a period of a few weeks. Applications are then reviewed by a “Consultative Group” of five Geneva ambassadors from the UN’s five regions, currently consisting of Croatia, Honduras, Malaysia, Mauritius and Norway. The Consultative Group carries out interviews and makes a recommendation to the President of the Human Rights Council, frequently of three candidates, ranked in order of preference. The President of the Human Rights Council then makes a recommendation of one candidate based on the list received from the Consultative Group. The Human Rights Council then makes a decision based on the recommendation of the President of the Human Rights Council. This could all happen by as early as December 2017.

Detailed FAQ on the process for appointing Special Procedures experts are here.

The position of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was created by the UN’s Human Rights Council in June 2016. The position is established for an initial period of three years and will be re-considered by the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

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