Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people


The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples (referred to as the “Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples”) is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council.  The mandate holder advocates for the protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples, promotes good practices between indigenous peoples and States, and supports the implementation of international standards relating to the rights of indigenous peoples. The Special Rapporteur also communicates with governments, nongovernmental organizations, individuals, and others about the rights of indigenous peoples.


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 2001 with Resolution 2001/57. The Commission extended the mandate in 2004 with Resolution 2004/62. The Human Rights Council extended the mandate in 2007 (Resolution 6/12), 2010 (Resolution 15/14), and 2013 (Resolution 24/9).

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 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 first-hand knowledge about the issues most important to indigenous peoples and the obstacles to the full enjoyment of their rights.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes one to eight 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

In addition to country visits, the Special Rapporteur accepts information from indigenous peoples, their organizations, and other nongovernmental organizations concerning new developments (whether positive or negative), studies or conferences of interest, and new initiatives related to indigenous peoples’ rights. The Special Rapporteur also receives complaints about alleged violations of indigenous peoples’ human rights.

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.

The Special Rapporteur keeps confidential all communications to and from the government until it includes them in its reports 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 human rights are not violated.

Reports to the 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 and other communications submitted to the Special Rapporteur should comply with the guidelines provided, and include the following minimum information:

  • identity of the alleged victim(s) or community(ies) affected,
  • identity of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation,
  • the date, place, time, and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or alleged violation,
  • any action taken by State authorities,
  • any action taken before international bodies to obtain redress, 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:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples
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 92 32