MANDATE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON CONTEMPORARY FORMS OF SLAVERY
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder monitors the application of the Slavery Convention and other international instruments concerning slavery. Each year, the Special Rapporteur studies a different theme related to slavery; past themes include child labor, bonded labor, domestic servitude, servile marriage, and contemporary forms of slavery. The Special Rapporteur also issues recommendations for action to be taken at the national and international levels to eradicate the practice of slavery. The Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits and receives information about alleged human rights violations.
The Special Rapporteur must take into account the gender and age dimensions of contemporary forms of slavery throughout the work of his or her mandate.
COMPOSITION AND WORKING METHODS
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur lasts for a period of three years. The mandate is filled by one highly qualified individual.
The UN Human Rights Council established the Special Rapporteurship in 2007 with Resolution 6/14. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2010 with Resolution 15/2 and in 2013 with Resolution 24/3.
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 Human Rights Council.
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 remain in States’ efforts to eliminate contemporary forms of slavery.
The Special Rapporteur generally undertakes two to three visits 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 human rights violations relating to contemporary forms of slavery. In response to these complaints, 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 includes them in the yearly report to the Human Rights Council. The names of victims under the age of 18 and victims of sexual violence will not be disclosed, and initials will be used instead of the victims’ full names. 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 human rights are not violated.
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.
The urgent appeals procedure is reserved for cases in which there are sufficiently reliable allegations that a person’s human 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 Human Rights Council
The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the UN Human Rights Council on all of its activities relating to its mandate. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Annual Reports webpage.
SUBMITTING INFORMATION OR COMPLAINTS
Specific issues that could serve as a basis for action by the Special Rapporteur include, but are not limited to:
- all forms of forced labor,
- hereditary- and caste-based forms of slavery,
- bonded labor or debt bondage
- children working in slavery or slavery-like conditions,
- all forms of domestic servitude that affects adults and children,
- sexual slavery,
- forced or early marriage, and
- sale of wives.
Complaints should be submitted to the Special Rapporteur via the online submission form. Information and complaints submitted to the Special Rapporteur should conform to its model form and must include the following details:
- the identity of the alleged victim(s);
- the 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;
- any domestic or international remedies pursued to address the 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:
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery
c/o Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
- Email: [email protected]
- Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
To contact the Special Rapporteur with regard to other matters, use the above mailing address or the following email address: [email protected].