Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women
MANDATE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON RIGHTS OF WOMEN
The Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women is one of the special mechanisms overseen by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Special Rapporteurship was created in 1998 during the Commission’s 23rd Ordinary Session, and the Special Rapporteur was retroactively appointed the following year. See, e.g., ACommHPR, Resolution 38, Resolution on the Designation of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, 5 May 1999. Its purpose is to promote and protect the rights of women throughout the African Union (AU) Member States.
COMPOSITION AND WORKING METHODS
The Commission appoints Special Rapporteurs either by a consensus or by a vote. See ACommHPR, Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 2010, Rule 23(2). The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women has been renewed by the Commission several times, typically every two years. See, e.g., ACommHPR, Resolution 245, Resolution on the Renewal of the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, 5 November 2013. As of October 2014, each individual appointed as Special Rapporteur has been a Commissioner, simultaneously serving on the African Commission.
The Special Rapporteur undertakes a number of duties, including providing guidance on alleged violations, analyzing States’ domestic laws and their compliance with international standards, conducting visits to Member States, and studying relevant human rights conditions or situations.
Guidance on Alleged Violations
The Special Rapporteur provides the Commission with guidance in responding to communications that concern women’s rights. The mandate holder may lend expertise or insight during the Commission’s considering of complaints related to his or her mandate.
The mandate holder has also sent notes verbale to State officials requesting that specific measures be taken to address violations of women’s human rights. See, e.g., Soyata Maiga, Intersession Report by Me Soyata Maiga Commissioner/Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, Intersession Activity Report, 45th Ordinary Session (2009).
Analysis of National Practices and Policies
The Special Rapporteurship evaluates Member States’ laws and makes recommendations, encouraging the States to better align their policies with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and other international standards.
The mandate holder has also sent notes verbale, or diplomatic letters, to State officials encouraging their ratification of the Protocol. See, e.g., id.
The Special Rapporteur also defines guidelines for State reporting, so that Member States adequately address what measures they have taken to protect and promote women’s rights in their periodic and initial reports to the African Commission.
The Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits to Member States, with their consent. During these visits, which are also known as missions, the Special Rapporteur engages with many actors, including women, government officials, and civil society organizations, among others. The Special Rapporteurship investigates the treatment of women’s human rights, and provides the State with recommendations for improvement.
According to Rule 60 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure, after the completion of a mission, the Special Rapporteur has a duty to publish a Mission Report, which may be found on its website. These reports contain general recommendations to the State, and often include specific recommendations to the international community, African Commission, or civil society, among others.
The Special Rapporteur is responsible for seeking and receiving information from individuals, governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions, and other stakeholders concerning cases or situations that involve women’s human rights.
Along with information gathered from such actors and during missions, the Special Rapporteur disseminates and obtains information through promotional activities, such as workshops, conferences, and consultative seminars. The Special Rapporteur often coordinates these activities with other relevant Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups of the Commission or the United Nations.
On the basis of information received, the Special Rapporteur may propose that the Commission take a certain action or decision, or he or she may raise awareness of an issue in his or her reports, press releases or other activities. For example, the Special Rapporteurship drafts Resolutions concerning the protection of women’s rights and proposes them to the Commission for adoption.
The Special Rapporteur submits Intersession Activity Reports to the Commission each year, which outline the activities the Special Rapporteurship has undertaken. The Commission also prepares an annual Activity Report that it submits to the African Union Assembly, which includes information gathered from the Special Rapporteur, summarizing positive developments and areas of concern regarding human rights in Africa.
The Special Rapporteur may be contacted by:
Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women
31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District
Western Region P.O. Box 673 Banjul
- Email: The Special Rapporteur’s website contains an automated system to send the Special Rapporteur emails, by selecting the “Contact Commissioner” link.
To request the Special Rapporteur’s participation in a specific project concerning women’s rights in Africa, contact the Secretariat of the African Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org with information regarding the proposed project.
The Special Rapporteur does not accept individual complaints or requests for provisional measures. Such communications must be addressed to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. For additional information, see the Commission’s Guidelines for the Submission of Communications or IJRC’s resources on the African human rights system.