Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure
On 18 June 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 5/1 entitled “Institution-Building of the United Nations Human Rights Council” by which a new complaint procedure was established to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances.
The complaint procedure addresses communications submitted by individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations.
Like the former 1503 procedure, it is confidential, with a view to enhance cooperation with the State concerned. The new complaint procedure has been improved, where necessary, to ensure that the procedure be impartial, objective, efficient, victims-oriented and conducted in a timely manner.
How does the complaint procedure work?
Pursuant to paragraph 94 of resolution 5/1, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Communications, together with the Secretariat, undertake an initial screening of communications based on the admissibility criteria set in paragraphs 85 to 88 of resolution 5/1. Manifestly ill-founded and anonymous communications are screened out. Communications not rejected in the initial screening are transmitted to the State concerned to obtain its views on the allegations of violations. Both the author of a communication and the State concerned are informed of the proceedings at each stage.
Two distinct working groups - the Working Group on Communications and the Working Group on Situations – are responsible, respectively, for examining written communications and bringing consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms to the attention of the Council. (Click in the “in this section” for more information on both Working Groups and the closed meetings of the Council).
What are the criteria for a communication to be accepted for examination?
A communication related to a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms is admissible, provided that:
- It is not manifestly politically motivated and its object is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other applicable instruments in the field of human rights law;
- It gives a factual description of the alleged violations, including the rights which are alleged to be violated;
- Its language is not abusive. However, such a communication may be considered if it meets the other criteria for admissibility after deletion of the abusive language;
- It is submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be the victims of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, or by any person or group of persons, including non‑governmental organizations, acting in good faith in accordance with the principles of human rights, not resorting to politically motivated stands contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and claiming to have direct and reliable knowledge of the violations concerned. Nonetheless, reliably attested communications shall not be inadmissible solely because the knowledge of the individual authors is second-hand, provided that they are accompanied by clear evidence;
- It is not exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media;
- It does not refer to a case that appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights already being dealt with by a special procedure, a treaty body or other United Nations or similar regional complaints procedure in the field of human rights;
- Domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged.
National human rights institutions, established and operating under the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles), in particular in regard to quasi-judicial competence, may serve as effective means of addressing individual human rights violations.
How to submit communications?
Where to send communications?
Communications intended for handling under the Human Rights Council complaint procedure may be addressed to:
Complaint Procedure Unit
Human Rights Council Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11
E-mail: [email protected]