What are the Special Procedures?
The Special Procedures are individual independent human rights experts, or groups of such experts, who report and advise on human rights issues related to a particular theme or a specific country. Unlike the Treaty Bodies, unless their mandate is focused on a single state, the Special Procedures can examine the situation in all countries.
As of September 2015, the Human Rights Council oversees 41 thematic mandates and 14 country-specific mandates. The Special Procedures may be referred to by various names including Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives, Working Groups, and Independent Experts. Their responsibilities vary, but include: awareness raising efforts, country visits, making recommendations to states, conducting thematic studies, and organising expert consultations or seminars related to their mandate. Additionally, special procedures mechanisms can contact Governments directly when they receive allegations of human rights violations through a communications procedure. The reports of Special Procedures are presented to the Human Rights Council or the UN General Assembly, including compilations of the communications sent to governments.
How does ILGA engage with the Special Procedures?
Thematic Mandates: ILGA provides invaluable support to the Special Procedures system by submitting information and reports on particular themes that relate closely to SOGIEI issues. This enables the Special Procedures to examine, monitor, advise, and publicly report on SOGIEI and the situation of LGBTI persons across a wide range of human rights.
Country Visits: ILGA notifies local LGBTI organisations about upcoming country visits by Special Procedures. It works with these organisations to ensure that mandate holders are able to meet with them and receive information relevant to the mandate of the Special Procedure.
Meetings with Mandate Holders: ILGA meets with mandate-holders and their teams throughout the year to share information on SOGIEI issues and to ensure that ILGA remains informed of the themes of upcoming reports of the Special Procedures. On an ongoing basis, ILGA shares information with its members and partners on upcoming opportunities to engage with the Special Procedures. Additionally, when human rights defenders are in Geneva, ILGA organises meetings for them with relevant Special Procedures, staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Permanent Missions and non-governmental organisations, to facilitate and train the activists in engaging with other UN mechanisms.
Examples of ILGA’s engagement with the Special Procedures:
- Submission on the right to health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex adolescents
- Submission on the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons
- ILGA facilitated a meeting between the Special Rapporteur on Health and LGBTI activists from Asia, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and liaised with LGBTI activists in Paraguay in preparation for a country visit in September 2015.
- Submission on the link between homelessness and the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing in regards to LGBTI persons
- Submission on discrimination in relation to the right to health and safety of lesbian, bisexual and intersex women and trans persons
Additionally, the UN Programme collaborated with other organisations to urge several Special Procedures to make a statement regarding the resolution on the Protection of the Family. The letter by four mandate holders to the President of the Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns regarding the resolution’s conflicts with international human rights law. ILGA later made a Submission to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide input on Human Rights Council resolution 29/22 on the protection of the family.