Special procedures

Special procedures is the general name given to the mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special procedures are either an individual (called ‘Special Rapporteur’ or ‘Independent Expert’) or a working group usually composed of five members. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, created in 1999, covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the ICRMW.

The Special Rapporteur does not require the exhaustion of domestic remedies to act. When the facts in question come within the scope of more than one mandate established by the Commission, the Special Rapporteur may decide to approach other thematic mechanisms and country Rapporteurs with a view to sending joint communications or seeking joint missions.

Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 United Nations member States once every four years. UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare the actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, it is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2012, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

During UPR reviews of countries of the subregion, a number of recommendations were made:

  • Pakistan was requested to consider ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
  • The efforts of by Nepal to promote the rights of all vulnerable and marginalized groups, including migrants, were welcomed.
  • Regarding Sri Lanka, the CEDAW had already expressed concern in 2002 about the increasing number of women who migrate and find themselves in vulnerable situations, often subjected to abuse and sometimes death. Sri Lanka supported recommendations to enter into further agreements with countries hosting its migrant workers. The country was also encouraged to elaborate further on its plans to protect migrant workers, including women.