Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants


The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder works to overcome the obstacles existing towards the effective protection of migrants’ human rights. Relying on the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Member of Their Families for guidance, the Special Rapporteur promotes the application of international standards on the rights of migrants and makes recommendations on ways to end violations against migrants. The Special Rapporteur pays particular attention to the vulnerability of women, child, undocumented migrants, and migrants in an irregular situation. The main duties of the Special Rapporteur are to receive information about alleged violations and to conduct country visits in order to understand more fully the situation of migrants in the country concerned.

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 1999 with Resolution 1999/44. The Commission extended the mandate in 2002 with Resolution 2002/62 and in 2005 with Resolution 2005/47. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2008 (Resolution 8/10), 2011 (Resolution 17/12), and 2014 (Resolution 26/19).

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 gain a first-hand understanding of the situation of migrants’ human rights in the country. The Special Rapporteur considers the social, political, and historical context of the country when evaluating the development of national legislation on issues related to migrants and their rights.

The Special Rapporteur generally undertakes one to five 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 violations of the human rights of migrants. 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 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 an 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.

Allegation Letters

Generally, the Special Rapporteur sends an allegation letter in circumstances where the alleged violation has already occurred, relates to a general pattern of violations, 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 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 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 to the Special Rapporteur via the online submission form. Complaints submitted to the Special Rapporteur should use the questionnaire provided, comply with the guidelines, 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;
  • any action taken by national authorities to remedy the situation;
  • any domestic or international remedies pursued; and
  • the identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, which will be kept confidential.

The Special Rapporteur can also be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants
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 any other matter (not a complaint), use the above mailing address or the following email address: [email protected].