Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development


The Special Rapporteur on the right to development is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder is tasked with promoting the right to development, which covers people’s right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development. The Special Rapporteur fulfills this mandate in several ways, including engaging with UN Member States and relevant stakeholders; reporting to the UN Human Rights Council and the Working Group on the right to development; and assisting in mainstreaming the right to development into the work of UN bodies and agencies, financial institutions, and international development projects.

The Special Rapporteur’s work complements the mandate of the Working Group on the right to development and supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Special Rapporteur will apply a gender perspective throughout the work of their 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 Human Rights Council established the Special Rapporteurship in 2016 with Resolution 33/14.

In fulfilling the mandate, the Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits, communicates with governments concerning information and complaints received regarding alleged rights violations, engages in dialogue with relevant stakeholders, and submits annual reports on the right to development to the 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 help governments find solutions to promoting development goals within that country. Country visits also allow the Special Rapporteur to develop a relationship with governments, making it more likely that States will cooperate with the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for improvement

The Special Rapporteur will undertake visits to States that have extended an invitation. The list of country visits conducted and the Special Rapporteur’s reports on those visits will be available 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 complaints about alleged violations of the right to development, and may, on behalf of the complainant, contact the infringing government (or in some cases intergovernmental organization or non-state actor). 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 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 the right to development is not 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 right to development will be violated and that the situation is time-sensitive. 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 the Human Rights Counsel

The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on all of its activities relating to the mandate. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Annual Reports webpage.


Complaints should be submitted to the Special Rapporteur via email to [email protected] or [email protected], or the online submission form. Submissions should contain the following information:

  • Identification of the alleged victim(s)
  • Identification of the alleged perpetrators of the violation, if known, including non-State actors
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, if different from the victim, which will be kept confidential
  • Information on the date, place, and details of the incident(s) or violation, including those that are ongoing or about to occur

The Special Rapporteur may also be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on the right to development
c/o Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10