UN Human Rights experts face curbs

The UN Human Rights Council is currently discussing changes to the Special Procedures through a review to be completed by June 2007. The UN's Special Procedures provide expertise on matters ranging from freedom from torture, arbitrary or extrajudicial executions, "counter-terrorism", racism and violence against women to respect for the rights to health, to food and to adequate housing.

The United Nations Human Rights Council's special rapporteurs and representatives, independent experts and working groups - collectively known as the "Special Procedures" - are among the most innovative, flexible and responsive tools created by the UN to promote and protect human rights.

Over the 40 years of their existence, the Special Procedures have made urgent interventions concerning thousands of individuals whose lives and physical integrity were at risk; through their country missions and studies, they have made recommendations for the improvement of human rights at the national and international levels; they have facilitated a better understanding and encouraged the development of human rights law.

The Special Procedures continue to play a unique role and are as essential to the improvement of human rights in the world in 2007 as they were in 1967, when the very first mandate was created.

Today their coverage ranges from freedom from torture, arbitrary or extrajudicial executions, "counter-terrorism", racism and violence against women to respect for the rights to health, to food and to adequate housing. They help to protect individuals and groups, such as migrants and indigenous peoples, and address situations of human rights violations both globally and in specific countries.

Take Action Now!

The UN Human Rights Council is currently discussing changes to the Special Procedures through a review, which must be completed by June 2007. Despite the clear need for the Human Rights Council to strengthen the Special Procedures, several states are instead proposing changes that would cripple the ability of Special Procedures to promote and protect human rights effectively.

Those states are disregarding the harm that such measures would do to the men, women and children whose human rights are violated every day in all parts of the world, and who look to the Special Procedures to intervene on their behalf in defence of their rights.

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