Complaints Procedures

The Human Rights Council Complaints Procedure

The complaint procedure addresses communications submitted by individuals, groups, or NGOs that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations.

Like the former 1503 procedure, it is confidential, with a view to enhance cooperation with the State concerned. The new complaint procedure has been improved, where necessary, to ensure that the procedure be impartial, objective, efficient, victims-oriented and conducted in a timely manner.

How does the complaint procedure work?

Pursuant to paragraph 94 of resolution 5/1, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Communications, together with the Secretariat, undertake an initial screening of communications based on the admissibility criteria set in paragraphs 85 to 88 of resolution 5/1. Manifestly ill-founded and anonymous communications are screened out. Communications not rejected in the initial screening are transmitted to the State concerned to obtain its views on the allegations of violations. Both the author of a communication and the State concerned are informed of the proceedings at each stage.

Two distinct working groups – the Working Group on Communications and the Working Group on Situations – are responsible, respectively, for examining written communications and bringing consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms to the attention of the Council. (Click in the “in this section” for more information on both Working Groups and the closed meetings of the Council).

What are the criteria for a communication to be accepted for examination?

A communication related to a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms is admissible, provided that:

It is not manifestly politically motivated and its object is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other applicable instruments in the field of human rights law;

It gives a factual description of the alleged violations, including the rights which are alleged to be violated;

Its language is not abusive. However, such a communication may be considered if it meets the other criteria for admissibility after deletion of the abusive language;

It is submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be the victims of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, or by any person or group of persons, including non‑governmental organizations, acting in good faith in accordance with the principles of human rights, not resorting to politically motivated stands contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and claiming to have direct and reliable knowledge of the violations concerned. Nonetheless, reliably attested communications shall not be inadmissible solely because the knowledge of the individual authors is second-hand, provided that they are accompanied by clear evidence;

It is not exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media;

It does not refer to a case that appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights already being dealt with by a special procedure, a treaty body or other United Nations or similar regional complaints procedure in the field of human rights;

if all domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged.

National human rights institutions, established and operating under the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles), in particular in regard to quasi-judicial competence, may serve as effective means of addressing individual human rights violations.

How to submit communications?

Please fill out the complaint procedure form if you consider that your communication meets the abovementioned criteria.

Where to send communications?

Communications intended for handling under the Human Rights Council  complaint procedure may be addressed to:

Complaint Procedure Unit
Human Rights Council Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11

Information page:

Thematic Issues

36 Thematic Mandates:

Submitting Complaints to Thematic specific Special Procedures Mandate Holders

Adequate Housing:

Arbitrary Detention:




Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances:


Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:

Extreme poverty:



Freedom of peaceful assembly and association:

Freedom of opinion and expression:

Freedom of religion or belief:

Hazardous Substances and Waste:


Human Right Defenders:

Independence of Judges and Lawyers:

Indigenous Peoples:

Internally Displaced Persons:




Minority Issues:

People of African

Promotion of a democratic and equitable international

Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantee of Non-Recurrence :


Sale of Children:


 Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment:

Trafficking in Persons: also

Transnational Corporations and Business:

Violence against Women:

Water and

Women in Law and Practice:

Submitting information to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
To carry out his work, the Special Rapporteur relies heavily on information from indigenous peoples, their organizations and NGOs. The Special Rapporteur encourages these sources to submit information that relates to his mandate from the Human Rights Council, which is to promote the human rights of indigenous peoples and address specific situations in which their rights are being violated. This information may be about positive developments, studies or conferences of interest, new initiatives, or problem situations.

Information alleging human rights violations
The Special Rapporteur is authorized to act on credible information alleging human rights violations of indigenous peoples. No formal requirements exist for submitting information to the Special Rapporteur on alleged violations. Neither exhaustion of domestic remedies nor a detailed legal argument about the case is required. Any person, group or organization can send information to the Special Rapporteur irrespective of the relationship with the victim(s) of the alleged violation.

Information submitted to the Special Rapporteur on alleged violations should include a detailed description of the circumstances of the case. It should be precise and as brief as possible (1-2 pages may suffice) while providing a complete statement of the situation, and may be accompanied by annexes providing written or graphic evidence of the facts.

The information should include, where applicable:

When and Where: Date, time and precise location of the incident (Country, region, municipality)

Victim(s) or Community Affected: Name, number and full details on the location of the indigenous people, community or individual(s) whose rights allegedly have been violated or are under threat.

What happened: Detailed circumstances of the alleged violation. If an initial event leads to others, please describe them chronologically. In cases of general measures, such as national legislation or policies, indicate their stage of development and how indigenous peoples have or will be affected by them.

Perpetrator(s): Detailed information on the person(s) or institution(s) responsible for the violation and their relation, if any, to the Government concerned. If circumstances require, provide an explanation of the reasons for suspecting responsibility of the person(s) or institution(s) identified.

Action taken by State authorities: If applicable, what actions have been taken by the relevant authorities to remedy the situation? Has the matter been reported to the administrative or judicial authorities of the State concerned? Note that exhaustion of domestic remedies is not a requirement. This information merely aids the Special Rapporteur in understanding the allegation and developing an appropriate response.

Action taken before international bodies: Has any action been initiated before other international or regional human rights mechanisms? If so, at what stage are these other international actions?

Source: Name and full address of the indigenous people, organization or individual(s) submitting the information. These contact details are essential in the event the Special Rapporteur needs clarification or further information on the case. This information is kept confidential, unless the source authorizes otherwise.

Submitting the Information — contact information
Anyone who wishes to submit information to the Special Rapporteur may do so in one of the following ways:

Email (preferred method):
Please include “Communication regarding [country or indigenous people]” in the Subject Line

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights
and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

+41 22 917 92 32

You can also contact Prof. James Anaya at:

By sending any communication to OHCHR, each communication gets logged.

However, correspondence can also be sent to the specific mandate holder. You can submit complaints with one or more Special Procedures mandate holders. For list please visit:  then >> click on Human Rights Bodies >> click on Human Rights Council >> in left column choose >> Special Procedures >>then from first paragraph choose >> thematic. Choose any of the thematic mandates that are relevant to you, e.g. human rights defenders and when opening the page you will see in the right window >> Submitting complaints.

The above breadcrumb method is to be used if the weblinks are not operational.