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1. Understanding the Special Procedures

1.6 Statements and press releases – What do the Special Procedures do?

The specific tasks assigned to any Special Procedure vary according to the Human Rights Council resolution establishing the mandate. However, the tools or outputs that are available to the Special Procedures are the same.

This section focuses on the following main outputs of the Special Procedures:

Statements and press releases

Explore the ways that Special Procedures speak out publicly.


These are often made when the experts are speaking at events or when they wish to mark a particular date. Special Procedures regularly issue such public statements with other UN or regional mechanisms, to show a shared position on a particular issue.


Press releases

These are usually issued in response to a situation that the expert feels is sufficiently urgent or severe to warrant a public response. A press release on a particular case cannot be made until a communication has first been sent to the relevant State. Press releases – like a communication –will often be issued jointly by several experts.

Special Procedures mandate holders also typically issue a press release at the beginning of a country visit, and then hold a press conference at the end of the visit. Increasingly, Special Procedures use these events as opportunities to present preliminary conclusions and recommendations based on what they have observed.

Press releases of Special Procedures are made available in a database on the OHCHR website

Defender Story

Illustration of a women speaking

Bahrain – Release of detained human rights defenders

Human rights defenders working in very restrictive environments, such as Bahrain, have attributed their release from detention or the improvement of conditions of detention to the publicity and pressure associated with statements (e.g. here and here) and communications (here and here) from Special Procedures, among others.

Press releases by Special Procedures:

Communications by Special Procedures:

More information:

  • Article on release of a Maryam Al-Khawaja

Go to the previous section and the next sections to find out more about other tools and outputs of the Special Procedures, including: communications, country visits, thematic reports, and follow-up activities.

Learn more

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