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UN Special Procedures must Take Concrete Measures to Ensure Civil Society Participation and Engagement with their Mandates

This joint statement was delivered by the Sexual Rights initiative on 16 June 2023, on behalf of the #EmptyChairs Campaign and 15 organizations, during the Annual Civil Society Meeting with Special Procedures.

Thank you. I make this joint statement on behalf of the #EmptyChairs Campaign and 15 organizations.

We thank mandate-holders, the Coordination Committee and the Secretariat for making this meeting possible and providing civil society with the important opportunity to interact with the Special Procedures mechanism as a whole, and to raise suggestions and address concerns directly with mandate-holders. We welcome the reinstatement of written submissions and remote participation for this year’s meeting, which reflects a positive response to civil society requests. However, we regret that the date, invitation and participation information were not widely shared, and that the registration window only lasted a few days. We encourage you to widely disseminate the invitation at least a month in advance, to ensure meaningful civil society participation. We look forward to public documents relating to the content and/or outcomes of discussions, as was done in the 2019 Annual Meeting.1

Inclusive participation of diverse civil society, movements and activists, including those in the Global South and from underrepresented and marginalized groups, is core to the strengthening of an intersectional approach to Special Procedures’ mandates and to human rights in general. To expand participation regardless of access, location, resources and language, we encourage you to expand on these good practices and make the following recommendations: 

  • Issue timely calls for inputs before each country visit and thematic report, including vision-setting reports, providing for longer input timelines;
  • Improve information and access for national organizations and activists wanting to engage in country visits, including translation and interpretation in local languages, and extend outreach beyond mainstream or well-known organizations;
  • Ensure that information is child and youth-friendly, and that working methods and practices allow for meaningful child and youth participation;
  • Convene open civil society consultations with interpretation, remote participation and accessibility measures for persons with disabilities, taking into account security concerns; and
  • Regularly consult and inform civil society regarding the review and update of the Manual of operations and other working methods, and ensure that these are available in all UN Languages, accessible formats, and child and youth friendly versions.

For more information we refer you to our joint written submission2 to this Annual Meeting, which provided constructive feedback, including good practices that would benefit from being mainstreamed in working methods across mandates. We are available to discuss these proposals further with you.

Thank you.

Endorsed by:

  1. #EmptyChairs Campaign
  2. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  4. Association for Women’s Rights in Development
  5. Center for Reproductive Rights 
  6. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  7. Child Rights Connect
  8. CREA
  9. ILGA World
  10. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  11. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  12. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
  13. RFSL - Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights 
  14. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF)
  15. Sexual Rights Initiative
  16. Stichting CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality

1 See Remarks by Mrs. Anita Ramasastry, Chair of the Coordination Committee. 26th Annual Meeting of Special Procedures: Exchange with Member States. 21 June 2019 ; A Statement of Special Procedures Mandate Holders. June 2019.
2 Please see the joint written submission by 17 civil society organizations at this link.