Take Action: Special Procedures petition at the 4th session of the UN Human Rights Council
11 March 2007 6:00 pm

FORUM-ASIA and other organisations have launched a global petition to support the Special Procedures at the current session of the Human Rights Council. This petition was launched jointly with the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International (AI), the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Franciscans International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT).FORUM-ASIA has joined with the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International (AI), the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Franciscans International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT), to launch a global petition in support of the system of independent experts of the UN Human Rights Council, known as the Special Procedures. These are the special rapporteurs and representatives, independent experts and working groups created to monitor the situation of human rights in specific countries/territories, or the situation of specific human rights or groups in all parts of the world.

The petition was opened on 6 March 2007 on a dedicated site actforspecialprocedures.org and is running in four languages (Arabic, English, French and Spanish).

As you may be aware, negotiations are under way to review the Special Procedures within an intergovernmental working group of the UN. Regrettably, several governments are using this opportunity to make proposals which would cripple the ability of all the Special Procedures to fulfil their mandates effectively. Our organizations believe that there is a need to complement lobbying efforts with some very visible campaigning activity. Thus, the aim of this global petition is to galvanize support for the Special Procedures through the electronic and hard copy collection of signatures from individuals from all over the world.

We are also keen to attract signatures of individuals working for NGOs, human rights defenders, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, victims and their families and representatives. The petition offers an important opportunity to bear witness to the contribution made to the lives of individuals and their families by the Special Procedures. In this connection, please let us know if there are individuals who you think we could approach to share their personal testimony.

We encourage you to sign the petition and forward to other individuals and organizations you believe would be interested in supporting this initiative.

We also encourage you to take action in the following ways:

  1. Link your organisation’s home-page to the petition website at www.actforspecialprocedures.org
  2. Circulate a link to the website to your contacts and ask them to sign and to circulate onwards.
  3. Identify individuals who have been the victim of human rights violations and whose situation has been taken up by the Special Procedures. Approach them to see if they would be willing to sign the petition and share their personal testimony of the contribution the special procedures have made to their situation.
  4. Identify high profile individuals who can be approached to sign the petition. Please do not approach current Special Procedure mandate-holders to sign the petition, as it will not be helpful for them to sign. We have informed current mandate-holders but we have asked them not to sign it.
  5. If any of the Special Procedures have undertaken a mission to countries of your NGO partners within the past few years by any of the Special Procedures, please approach those NGOs to ask them to support this initiative and to speak about the impact of the mission and the report which resulted from that visit.
  6. Use the upcoming Council’s session to collect signatures.

The following groups could be approached to support the petition:

Parliamentarians, particularly those with a human rights interest, or who are members of human rights parliamentary committees, bearing in mind that parliamentarians are also victims of human rights violations and their cases are taken up by the Special Procedures;

National human rights institutions, who can use the recommendations of the Special Procedures in their work and, internationally at least, are seeking to forge a closer relationship with the Special Procedures. A directory of all national human rights institutions, with e-mail addresses, is available from http://www.nhri.net.

United Nations Associations, which are independent of the UN; many have a strong interest in human rights and UN reform

Academic institutions, to the extent that they are not covered by colleagues focusing on other themes, and in particular, academic institutions running courses on international human rights law could be targeted, both teachers and students.

National bar associations, relevant both because of the role played by the Special Procedures in interpreting and developing the law, but also because the theme of independence of judges and lawyers, as well as individuals who are members these professions, are subject of action by the Special Procedures.

National NGOs, who use the Special Procedures system or who have an interest in the Human Rights Council more broadly.