Special Rapporteur on the right to food
MANDATE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD
The Special Rapporteur on the right to food is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council and is responsible for monitoring the situation of the right to food worldwide and the evolution of the world food crisis. He or she promotes the full realization of the right to food by studying and engaging in dialogue around the right to food, including at seminars, conferences, and expert meetings.
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 Commission on Human Rights established the Special Rapporteurship in 2000 with Resolution 2000/10. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2010 with Resolution 13/4, and again in 2013 with Resolution 22/9.
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.
Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to gain a first-hand understanding of the situation of the right to food in a 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 undertakes one to four country visits per year. A list of previous country visits and the Special Rapporteur’s subsequent reports are 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 food. 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 Addendum 1 of the Annual Report, which is submitted 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 the right to food is 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 right to food will 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 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
Complaints should be submitted to the Special Rapporteur via the online submission form. Information and complaints submitted to the Special Rapporteur should comply with the guidance provided, and include the following details:
- the identity of the alleged victim(s);
- identity of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation;
- identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, which will be kept confidential; and,
- the date, place, and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or alleged violation.
The Special Rapporteur may also be contacted by:
Special Rapporteur on the right to food
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
To contact the Special Rapporteur with regard to another matter (not a complaint), use the email address: email@example.com.