The special procedures are the mechanisms established by the Commission on Human Rights (now the Human Rights Council (HRC)), and they involve specific mandates assigned to the situation of a given country or a special theme. Special procedures are carried out by independent experts. They are appointed as special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts or members of a working group. Representatives of civil society may have contact with the special procedures, whether individually or collectively. In part because of the participation of civil society members, independent experts are able to be in contact with victims of human rights violations and to analyse the situations, undertake missions in the field, prepare studies, raise awareness among the general public, and make recommendations.
For Indigenous Peoples there is a special procedure specific to their concerns called the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is possible to send communications to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Indigenous Peoples in a particular country or to invite her to visit the country. However, where applicable, it is necessary to have the approval of the Government in question. At the end of the field visit, the Rapporteur will issue observations and recommendations. It is then important to follow up on these recommendations. Other special procedures exist and can assess, by theme, the situation of indigenous rights in the field (e.g., Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context).
Current Special Rapporteur, since 2014: Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz (Philippines)
Former Special Rapporteurs:
- Prof. S. James Anaya, United States of America (2008-2014)
- Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Mexico (2001-2008)