In this section you will examine the ways that Special Procedures follow-up on their own actions to push for change.
Technically there is nothing to prevent Special Procedures from conducting follow-up visits, or monitoring cases over the longer term, however in practice there are a number of obstacles.
There is very limited capacity for Special Procedures to follow up on communications in a systematic way and to closely monitor a case over time. However, if they receive updated information on a situation, they may send a ‘follow-up’ communication to the government, which will also seek a reply to the previous communication(s) if none has been received.
There is no system in place for Special Procedures to follow up on statements they have made. Where a press release is connected to a communication, see above.
Although an ‘official’ follow-up visit is most desirable because it leads to a new report and recommendations on a country situation, it requires an invitation from the State, which can be very difficult to obtain – especially if the first report was very critical!
Thematic Special Procedures have a ‘universal’ mandate (they cover the whole globe) and it is difficult to justify visiting one country twice when others have not yet received a single visit (and Special Procedures can only conduct 2-3 visits per year). Resources are limited.
Special Procedures have found ways of working around these challenges, for example, by making unofficial or academic visits, even if they cannot publish a report with recommendations, or using an individual case to build up an issue that was the subject of a previous report.
A former Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights undertook a follow-up analysis on the implementation of recommendations in her country visit reports
The Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation has done similar work
The focus of Special Procedures is usually to explore new areas, rather than to revisit a topic that they or a predecessor has already examined in depth. However, where there have been major developments (usually over a period of at least five years), Special Procedures will sometimes dedicate a second thematic report to follow up on the first.
In the next section, you'll find out more about the crucial role that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the work of the Special Procedures.