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3. Your opportunities to engage

3.10 Influencing thematic reports

This section provides information on how you can influence thematic reports drafted by Special Procedures.

It follows from the last section: Thematic Reports – Why are they useful?

Thematic reports

There are a number of ways in which you can engage with thematic reports to strengthen your own work and that of the Special Procedures.

Influence the themes

Firstly, you can engage with Special Procedures to try to influence the main themes of their reports. This requires a long-term vision as some mandates decide on the themes several years in advance.

This is usually most successful when done by a coalition or in coordination with other organisations from around the globe who agree that a particular theme should be examined by the UN.

You will need to present strong evidence to a particular Special Procedure to show why there is a need for the report, including through information submitted for communications.

Submit information

Secondly, when a Special Procedure is about to prepare a report, they usually ask for submissions from civil society and other actors (published on their website).

While the report will usually have a global perspective and so will not focus on one single country, by submitting information, you can influence the content of the report.

This can give you an opportunity to showcase good practice in your country, to raise awareness of particular cases, or to try to draw attention to worrying trends in your country or region, etc.

Examples of calls for input:

Make a statement when report is presented

Thirdly, when the reports of the Special Procedures are finalised and presented at the Human Rights Council session, during the Interactive Dialogue that follows the experts’ oral presentation to the Council, there is space for ECOSOC-accredited NGOs to make statements or to ask questions in the Council plenary.

These interventions can be used to encourage the Special Procedure to look at new issues, to draw attention to areas of concern, or to ask for more detail about an aspect of their work.

Some Special Procedures present a thematic report to the UN General Assembly once a year, but civil society is not able to speak during those sessions, and can only try to influence what statements or questions are made by States.

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Making a statement when a thematic report is presented

  • Being in Geneva also provides you with the opportunity to meet with individual mandate holders or their staff from OHCHR. You can also lobby experts to address particularly grave situations in their oral presentation, though such interventions are rare.

  • Even if your organisation does not have ECOSOC accreditation or you are unable to travel to Geneva, you can work with an NGO that has ECOSOC status in order to jointly prepare a statement to deliver at the HRC during the interactive dialogue. In some cases, it may be possible to submit a video of a statement. Remember that these can be no longer than 2 minutes!

Develop policy documents and standards

Finally, Special Procedures can be involved in the development of documents if invited to do so, in this way contributing to standard setting in their fields.

For example, two Special Rapporteurs were in the group of experts that drew up the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10, and various current and former Special Procedures were involved in an expert group that elaborated and adopted the Model National Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The development of both of these documents was led by NGOs, and while they are not official thematic reports or UN documents, they benefit from the expertise and authority of the UN experts.

These past sections have focused on getting the Special Procedures to take action. Continue to learn more about how to follow up and increase impact.

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