Support to UN Special Procedures

Started in June 2020

The United Nations (UN) Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council are a unique mechanism of independent expert advice and monitoring in the UN human rights system. Mandated to report regularly to the Council and the UN General Assembly on thematic issues and country situations, they are less bound by governmental considerations or institutional constraints. As such, these UN experts are the most outspoken players in the system.

TACKLING CROSSCUTTING ISSUES

All Special Procedures face a number of challenges in the implementation of their mandates. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ensures coordination, but the mandate holders themselves are not staff of the UN and are not based in Geneva.

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) offers them additional opportunities to engage with each other and with other parts of the UN system via an annual meeting on a topic of common concern, as well as via institutional discussions on thematic issues, working methods, impact assessment and other methodological issues. These meetings support UN Special Procedures in tackling common challenges, improving their work and impact and elaborating joint positions or statements.

Evaluating their Impact

Via dedicated research, the GHRP supports UN Special Procedures in measuring the impact of their work to promote and protection of human rights – in a given country or in relation to a specific right – along with the effectiveness of their interventions and activities.

This evaluation assessment is vital to determining the efficacy of a mandate’s work and its outcomes will support decision-making and provide guidance for future undertakings, and resource allocation.

The research develops proposals contained within the publication ‘Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures’, which stemmed from an initial Expert Meeting convened to discuss enhancing the existing evaluation and measurement framework in place. Following an initial mapping of existing evaluation practices, the GHRP will elaborate – in consultation with UN Special Procedures – an overarching methodological framework that incorporates measurement tools and indicators that can deliver an objective, detailed overall analysis of impact.

SUPPORTING SPECIFIC MANDATES

The special relationship with a number of mandates and mandate holders results in reinforced support to these mandates via dedicated research projects, dissemination of research outputs, support to specific activities, structural support, joint initiatives and conferences.

The GHRP directly supports the UN SR on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – who is conducting a research project on promoting and protecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and civic space worldwide at the Geneva Academy – in dissemination, outreach and networking activities. Similar support is also provided to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rightsvia specific research hosted at the Geneva Academy.

In addition, the GHRP regularly collaborates with other UN SRs, including the UN SR on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – who is the Swiss Human Rights Chair at the Geneva Academy – as well as the SR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Press briefing by the Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palais des Nations. 28 February 2019. News

New Paper Discusses the Impact of United Nations Special Procedures

12 April 2021

Our new Working Paper Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures discusses the impact of UN Special Procedures, reviews progress made to measure it, and proposes avenues to improve this assessment.

Read more >

TEAM

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Manager of Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier oversees the conceptualization, development and implementation of policy research at the Geneva Academy. He is also the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow and Project Coordinator

His research focuses on the question of connectivity among international human rights mechanisms and on national strategies for monitoring, implementation and follow-up of international human rights obligations and recommendations.

PIcture of Clément Voule

Clément Voule

Researcher

Clément Nyaletsossi Voule is Researcher at the Geneva Academy and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

Picture of Chloe Naret

Chloé Naret

Project Assistant, Geneva Human Rights Platform

Chloé Naret works as a Project Assistant for the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

OUTPUT

Evaluating the Impact of UN Special Procedures' Visits, Recommendations and Inquiries

During an online expert meeting, more than 20 United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs and members of UN working groups, as well as staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), civil society representatives and lawyers explored how the impact of UN Special Procedures’ visits, recommendations and inquiries can be effectively measured and evaluated.

PROVIDING GUIDANCE TO THE FUTURE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

In the course of an online expert meeting convened with civil society organizations and academics, participants provided insights and guidance as to how the next mandate holder could take forward pressing issues for the right to privacy. The discussion also focused on how different stakeholders could facilitate the work of the mandate, and which challenges should be prioritised given resource restraints. The results of this engagement and dialogue have been outlined in a research briefing.

Applying a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

At a consultation hosted for the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WG), academics, representatives of international organizations, members of UN treaty bodies, the private sector, business associations and civil society discussed key issues and challenges related to the application of a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles).

The consultation was also the occasion to present the Geneva Academy's publication Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches – the outcome of research aimed at supporting the WG’s consultation process to apply a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles and thus contribute the promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality in relation to the business sector via research on international human rights law and policies related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities.

Publications

cover of the publication

Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures

February 2021

Jonathan Andrew

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover of the Briefing

Gender Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches

December 2018

Joanna Bourke Martignoni, Elizabeth Umlas

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Past Events

Possible Priorities for the Next UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

16 April 2021

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Microphone News

New Podcast Series on Antonio Cassese co-hosted by Professor Paola Gaeta

6 December 2021

The new podcast series ‘Antonio Cassese: The Stubborn Sparrow’ – co-hosted by our Faculty member and former Director Professor Paola Gaeta – discusses, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his passing, the work and legacy of Antonio Cassese, who was known to his friends as 'Nino'.

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Olivier de Frouville, Chairperson of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, addresses the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council. Wednesday 6 March 2013 News

Professor de Frouville Joins the Geneva Human Rights Platform Advisory Board

21 October 2021

Olivier de Frouville, Professor of Public Law at the University of Paris 2 and Director of the Paris Human Rights Center, joined the Geneva Human Rights Platform Advisory Board.

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Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law

7 February 2022, 12:30-14:00

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

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Police officers during a demonstration Event

Discussion on the UN Guidelines for Lawyers in Support of Peaceful Assemblies

24 January 2022, 13:30-15:00

This event aims at promoting the use of the new Guidelines for Lawyers in Support to Peaceful Assemblies within legal professions.

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Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

11 February - 4 March 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

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An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

9 March - 13 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

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NYU Stern BHR Knitwear Factory in Mymensingh Project

Business and Human Rights: Towards a Decade of Global Implementation

Started in July 2020

This project aims at supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights' project for the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Cover of the publication Publication

Regulatory Approaches to Online Harms and Human Rights: Three Case Studies

published on January 2022

Ana Beduschi

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