Quick Search: go

3. Your opportunities to engage

3.9 Thematic reports – Why are they useful?

You can engage with Special Procedures in all areas of their work – communications, statements and press releases, country visits, and thematic reports - and by following up on Special Procedures’ actions.

This and the next section focus on:

Thematic Reports

Special Procedures use their thematic reports to examine an aspect of their mandate in greater depth, to consolidate developments in international human rights law, and to make recommendations to a wide variety of actors.

As a human rights defender, you can help shape the contents of these reports to make them as useful as possible for your own advocacy.

Below you'll find questions to help you consider why thematic reports might be useful to your advocacy, followed by some examples of how other human rights defenders have done so.

For more information on what they are, see ISHR Academy: Thematic reports – What do the Special Procedures do?


Reflection Questions

Reflection question thought bubble

Q1- How could a thematic report by a Special Procedure be useful / advantageous to you?

A thematic report offers the opportunity to:

  • Obtain a UN report with ‘generic’ recommendations and standards that you can direct to your government

  • Increase understanding by Special Procedures and a much wider audience regarding a human rights issue

  • Build relationships with mandate holders for future action, because you submitted information


Q2- Could it be harmful / disadvantageous?

  • If a Special Procedure includes in their report information regarding a specific case or example that your government associates with you, it could lead to reprisals by your government. See ISHR Academy: What to do if you face reprisals when engaging with the UN?

  • Thematic reports are not tailored to any specific context or a particular national situation and have a word limit, so it can be hard to get concrete references to your priorities


Q3- Consider how thematic reports support / complement your existing advocacy strategies


Example of using thematic reports

Defender Story

Illustration of a women speaking

Côte d’Ivoire – National Law on the protection of human rights defenders

As a result of the risks faced by human rights defenders from Côte d’Ivoire, civil society there sought to introduce a national law on the protection of human rights defenders.

No such law existed in Africa, and they were able to draw on recommendations, thematic reports and advice from Special Procedures to strengthen their campaign. The law was subsequently enacted in 2014.

More information available here.


Continue to the next section for tips on how to influence the content of thematic reports.

Learn more

Module content
Module content