Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance


The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder monitors incidents of racism and racial discrimination against persons in minority groups, indigenous peoples, and other victims included in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes fact-finding country visits and receives information  and complaints about cases of alleged racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. The Special Rapporteur also reports to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly about its activities and methods of work, as well as about trends related to the mandate.


The mandate of the Special Rapporteur lasts for a period of three years. The mandate is filled by one highly qualified individual.

The UN Commission on Human Rights established the Special Rapporteurship in 1993 with Resolution 1993/20. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2008 (Resolution 7/34), 2011 (Resolution 16/33), and 2014 (Resolution 25/32).

In fulfilling the mandate, the Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits, communicates with governments concerning information and complaints received regarding alleged rights violations, and submits activity reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council.

Country Visits

One important function of the Special Rapporteur is to conduct country visits, which it does on the basis of an invitation from the country concerned. Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to examine the challenges that States face in overcoming racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, including issues relating to other vulnerable groups such as refugees and migrants.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes an average of two per year, to States that have extended an invitation. View the list of previous country visits and the Special Rapporteur’s subsequent reports here.

More than 100 countries have extended standing invitations to country visits by all thematic special procedures. View the list of countries that have extended standing invitations here.

Receiving Information & Complaints

The Special Rapporteur receives information and complaints about alleged violations concerning contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, and related intolerance. Importantly, the Special Rapporteur does not issue decisions concerning individual complaints and cannot require the State to remedy any alleged violation; rather, the Special Rapporteur raises the issue of concern with the relevant State. The Special Rapporteur may contact the government concerned to invite comment on the allegation, seek clarification, remind the government of its international obligations, or request information on steps being taken by the government to redress the situation. Generally called “communications,” these exchanges with the government can take a variety of forms of varying degrees of significance. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur contacts a government through either an allegation letter or an urgent appeal.

The Special Rapporteur keeps confidential all communications to and from the government until it publishes them in the annual report to the Human Rights Council. The communications sent by the Special Rapporteur and other special procedures are also compiled in periodic reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council at each of its regular sessions.

In all communications, the Special Rapporteur is careful not to draw any conclusions about the facts of the case. Instead, the Special Rapporteur simply presses for the government to ensure that no human rights will be violated.

Allegation Letters

Generally, the Special Rapporteur sends an allegation letter in circumstances where the alleged violation has already occurred, or is not so pressing as to warrant sending an urgent appeal. An allegation letter generally contains a request for the government to clarify the substance of the allegation and to forward any information related to the allegation to the Special Rapporteur.

Urgent Appeals

The urgent appeals procedure is reserved for cases in which there are sufficiently reliable allegations that a person’s rights may be violated and that the situation is time-sensitive in terms of loss of life, life-threatening situations, or imminent or ongoing damage of a grave nature. If it appears that the allegation letters procedure is unlikely to address the situation in a timely enough manner, the Special Rapporteur will send an urgent appeal to the government concerned.

Reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council

The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on all of its activities relating to its mandate.


Complaints should be submitted to the Special Rapporteur via the online submission form. Complaints submitted to the Special Rapporteur should conform to the guidelines on communications, and include the following information:

  • identity of the alleged victim(s);
  • identity of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation;
  • the date, place, and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or alleged violation; and,
  • the identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, which will be kept confidential.

The Special Rapporteur may also be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
c/o Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10

  • Fax: +41 22 917 90 06

To contact the Special Rapporteur with regard to another matter (not a complaint), use the above mailing address or the following email address: [email protected].