Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions


The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder examines situations of extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution all over the world.

The Special Rapporteur reports on these situations annually to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. Where situations of extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions are serious and where immediate attention might prevent further deterioration, the Special Rapporteur will bring the situation to the Human Rights Council or UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ attention.

The Special Rapporteur also responds to information about past or threatened extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. Ongoing dialogues with governments play a large role in the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. The Special Rapporteur must also monitor the implementation of international standards on the safeguards and restrictions relating to capital punishment.

The Special Rapporteur must apply a gender perspective throughout the work of his or her 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 1982 with Resolution 1982/35. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2011 with Resolution 17/5.

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 he or she does on the basis of an invitation from the country concerned. Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about the situation of the right to life in the particular country, with the cooperation and assistance of the country itself. Country visits also enable the Special Rapporteur to make useful recommendations to improve situations.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes approximately two 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 from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, governments, and individuals about alleged violations of the right to life. 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 includes them in the Annual Report to the Human Rights Council on communications sent and replies from government. 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.

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. In most cases, an allegation letter contains a case summary and letter requesting the government to inform the Special Rapporteur about the progress and result of the case; penal or disciplinary sanctions imposed on the perpetrators of an extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution; and compensation paid to the family of the victim. The Special Rapporteur generally also urges the government to investigate, prosecute, impose appropriate sanctions, and provide compensation, as well as to take steps to prevent similar occurrences.

In some cases, the Special Rapporteur sends an allegation letter where the allegation is general and the Special Rapporteur seeks more specific information.

Urgent Appeals

The urgent appeals procedure is reserved for cases in which there are sufficiently reliable allegations that a person may be extra-judicially, summarily, or arbitrarily executed or expelled to a country where such an execution may occur. The Special Rapporteur appeals to the government concerned to protect the threatened individual(s) and to inform the Special Rapporteur of steps taken to do so. The Special Rapporteur also urges the government to undertake full, independent, and impartial investigations of violations of the right to life and to take steps to prevent further violations.

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. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Annual Reports webpage.


Complaints should be submitted via the online submission form. Complaints submitted to the Special Rapporteur should provide the information requested in the model questionnaire and guidelines, including:

  • details of the incident, such as date, place, and how the incident occurred;
  • the victim(s) of the incident;
  • the alleged perpetrator(s);
  • steps taken by the victims or their families to obtain redress; and,
  • steps taken by authorities to investigate the alleged violation and/or measures adopted to protect persons under threat

The Special Rapporteur may also be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
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