UN: ICJ joins NGOs’s call to protect the independence of Special Procedures

Today, the ICJ joined Amnesty International and other 14 NGOs to express concern at continued attacks on the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council by some States and at efforts to undermine their independence.

The joint statement reads as follows:

“Madame President,

Amnesty International delivers this statement on behalf of 15 NGOs.

We are deeply concerned by continued attacks on the Special Procedures and efforts to undermine their independence. We urge all states to affirm their commitment to human rights and the effectiveness of the international human rights system, by rejecting and condemning these efforts.

We welcome the continued efforts of the Coordination Committee to address objective non-compliance of mandate holders under the Internal Advisory Procedure, including in response to the failure of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy to submit his reports to the Council in time for their consideration at this session. We urge all states to support the Coordination Committee in their efforts to respond to concerns related to the working methods of the Special Procedures, as well as complaints against individual mandate holders.

At the same time, we deplore the efforts of some states to use this process as a cover to undermine the independence and effectiveness of the Special Procedures for political reasons. As on numerous previous occasions, certain states repeatedly accuse the Special Procedures of politicization but fail to substantively address the human rights concerns they raise.

We particularly regret the Russian Federation’s efforts, on 5 March, to suspend the HRC session altogether and their continued attempts, together with other states, to introduce unwarranted state oversight on the Special Procedures.

We were also alarmed to witness personal attacks on the Special Procedures, most worryingly against the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, by the Chinese delegation, who during the interactive dialogue accused the mandate holder of ‘spread[ing] false information’ and ‘lack[ing] minimum professional ethics.” Such ad hominem attacks are unacceptable, and the Council must respond in the strongest terms to condemn such incidents. They also reveal a broader rejection of dialogue on human rights challenges – despite repeated statements urging the Council to privilege ‘dialogue and cooperation’ –  and a lack of willingness on the part of the state concerned to take action to protect human rights.

It is time for states at this Council to take a strong proactive stand for its independent mechanisms, ensuring that they have the support and resources needed to fulfil their mandates and to hold states accountable when they commit human rights violations.

Thank you.”

The signatories of the statement are:

  • Amnesty International
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  • Forum Menschenrechte e.V.
  • Human Rights House Foundation
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  • Privacy International
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom


Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949

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