Support to UN Special Procedures

Started in June 2020

The United Nations (UN) Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council are a unique mechanism of independent expert advice and monitoring in the UN human rights system. Mandated to report regularly to the Council and the UN General Assembly on thematic issues and country situations, they are less bound by governmental considerations or institutional constraints. As such, these UN experts are the most outspoken players in the system.

TACKLING CROSSCUTTING ISSUES

All Special Procedures face a number of challenges in the implementation of their mandates. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ensures coordination, but the mandate holders themselves are not staff of the UN and are not based in Geneva.

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) offers them additional opportunities to engage with each other and with other parts of the UN system via an annual meeting on a topic of common concern, as well as via institutional discussions on thematic issues, working methods, impact assessment and other methodological issues. These meetings support UN Special Procedures in tackling common challenges, improving their work and impact and elaborating joint positions or statements.

Evaluating their Impact

Via dedicated research, the GHRP supports UN Special Procedures in measuring the impact of their work to promote and protection of human rights – in a given country or in relation to a specific right – along with the effectiveness of their interventions and activities.

This evaluation assessment is vital to determining the efficacy of a mandate’s work and its outcomes will support decision-making and provide guidance for future undertakings, and resource allocation.

The research develops proposals contained within the publication ‘Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures’, which stemmed from an initial Expert Meeting convened to discuss enhancing the existing evaluation and measurement framework in place. Following an initial mapping of existing evaluation practices, the GHRP will elaborate – in consultation with UN Special Procedures – an overarching methodological framework that incorporates measurement tools and indicators that can deliver an objective, detailed overall analysis of impact.

SUPPORTING SPECIFIC MANDATES

The special relationship with a number of mandates and mandate holders results in reinforced support to these mandates via dedicated research projects, dissemination of research outputs, support to specific activities, structural support, joint initiatives and conferences.

The GHRP directly supports the UN SR on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – who is conducting a research project on promoting and protecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and civic space worldwide at the Geneva Academy – in dissemination, outreach and networking activities. Similar support is also provided to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rightsvia specific research hosted at the Geneva Academy.

In addition, the GHRP regularly collaborates with other UN SRs, including the UN SR on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – who is the Swiss Human Rights Chair at the Geneva Academy – as well as the SR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

TEAM

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Manager of Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier oversees the conceptualization, development and implementation of policy research at the Geneva Academy. He is also the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Portrait of Jonathan Andrew

Jonathan Andrew

Research Fellow

Dr Jonathan Andrew's expertise focuses on the intersection of information technology with human rights law.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow

His research focuses on the question of connectivity among international human rights mechanisms and on national strategies for monitoring, implementation and follow-up of international human rights obligations and recommendations.

PIcture of Clément Voule

Clément Voule

Researcher

Clément Nyaletsossi Voule is Researcher at the Geneva Academy and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

Portrait of John Grova

John Grova

Associate Researcher

John Grova is currently advising and coordinating the UNGPs 10+ project led by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

OUTPUT

Evaluating the Impact of UN Special Procedures' Visits, Recommendations and Inquiries

During an online expert meeting, more than 20 United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs and members of UN working groups, as well as staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), civil society representatives and lawyers explored how the impact of UN Special Procedures’ visits, recommendations and inquiries can be effectively measured and evaluated.

PROVIDING GUIDANCE TO THE FUTURE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

In the course of an online expert meeting convened with civil society organizations and academics, participants provided insights and guidance as to how the next mandate holder could take forward pressing issues for the right to privacy. The discussion also focused on how different stakeholders could facilitate the work of the mandate, and which challenges should be prioritised given resource restraints. The results of this engagement and dialogue have been outlined in a research briefing.

Applying a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

At a consultation hosted for the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WG), academics, representatives of international organizations, members of UN treaty bodies, the private sector, business associations and civil society discussed key issues and challenges related to the application of a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles).

The consultation was also the occasion to present the Geneva Academy's publication Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches – the outcome of research aimed at supporting the WG’s consultation process to apply a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles and thus contribute the promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality in relation to the business sector via research on international human rights law and policies related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities.

Publications

cover of the publication

Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures

February 2021

Jonathan Andrew

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover of the Briefing

Gender Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches

December 2018

Joanna Bourke Martignoni, Elizabeth Umlas

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Press briefing by the Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palais des Nations. 28 February 2019. News

New Paper Discusses the Impact of United Nations Special Procedures

12 April 2021

Our new Working Paper Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures discusses the impact of UN Special Procedures, reviews progress made to measure it, and proposes avenues to improve this assessment.

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Past Events

Possible Priorities for the Next UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

16 April 2021

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Anh-Thu Vo and Bettina Rosk pleading online during the oral rounds of the Nelson Mandela Moot Court News

Oral Rounds of the Mandela Moot Court: Our Team Delves into Complex Human Rights Issues related to COVID-19

20 July 2021

After passing the first round and qualifying for the competition’s final stage, Anh-Thu Vo and Bettina Roska – enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law – participated in the oral rounds of the Nelson Mandela Moot Court.

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Laptop and tablet for online learning News

Online Short Courses on Offer for the Spring Semester

4 February 2021

For this spring semester, we offer a series of online short courses on topical and contemporary issues in the field of international humanitarian law, human rights and transitional justice.

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Event

2021 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

12 October 2021, 09:00-18:00

The 2021 Annual Conference will discuss the connectivity between national human rights actors and the Geneva-based international mechanisms.

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Greece, ylakio, pre-removal center. Short Course

Introduction to International Human Rights Law

14-29 October 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will provide participants with an introduction to substantive human rights law. It will start with an introduction to the nature and sources of international human rights law and its place in the international legal system. The course will then provide a presentation of the main principles applicable to substantive rights (jurisdiction, obligation and limitations).

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Prison visit by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Haiti Short Course

The Implementation of International Human Rights Law

18 November - 14 January 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.

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Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

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View of a session of the UN Human Rights Council Project

Human Rights Conversations

Started in January 2020

A series of events aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.

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Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

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cover of the publication Publication

The United Nations Treaty Bodies in a Transition Period – Progress Review March-December 2020 Chronicle

published on June 2021

Olivier de Frouville

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