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3. Your opportunities to engage

3.8 Obtaining a country visit

This section provides information on how you can push for a Special Procedure to visit to your country, and how you can engage with the expert both during and after the visit.

It follows from the last section on Country Visits – Why are they useful?

Country visits

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

Know when a visit is taking place

You can refer to the OHCHR website and online updates to see if any visits to your country have been requested or are scheduled.

Invitations to conduct an official country visit

You can encourage a relevant Special Procedure(s) to conduct a visit in order to draw attention to the situation in a country. This can be done by writing to the relevant expert at OHCHR and explaining why a visit would be useful.

When seeking to undertake a visit, the Special Procedure will request an invitation from the host government.

In circumstances where such government invitations to a Special Procedure are not forthcoming, you can lobby your government to issue them.

The government can also be pressed to issue a so-called ‘standing invitation’ allowing visits by all Special Procedures – invitations will still be required for each visit, but States will be under more pressure to agree.

Unofficial visits

In some countries, it is highly unlikely that a government will agree to invite a Special Procedure to visit. One way to get around this difficulty is for civil society or an academic institution to invite a particular Special Procedure mandate holder to attend a conference or event, allowing for an unofficial visit.

A Special Procedure cannot issue a full report with recommendations after such an unofficial visit, but these visits can help to build a relationship with the expert and draw their attention to grave situations or cases. They can even pave the way for an official invitation if there is a good dialogue with government representatives.

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What you can do when you know a country visit will take place

Before a country visit

  • Once a visit is scheduled, you can submit information to the Special Procedure to assist with the preparation for the visit and to urge the expert to look into areas of particular concern during the visit itself.

  • You can also contribute by publicising the visit.

During a country visit

  • During the visit you can meet with the expert to answer questions and to bring concerns to their attention. These meetings can be arranged by making contact with the OHCHR desk officer coordinating the work of the particular Special Procedure.

  • Given that visits are often of limited length it is often useful to coordinate such meetings amongst domestic NGOs to make sure that as many groups as possible have the chance to share their experiences.

After the country visit

  • Once a visit has been completed, a report and recommendations will be issued by the expert and presented to the HRC (sometimes up to a year after the visit). This can be used as an advocacy tool for local NGOs, who can also push for the implementation of key recommendations where the government seems reluctant.

See the next sections on how you can engage in other actions of Special Procedures, including Thematic Reports and Follow up Activities.

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