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The key partners of the Special Rapporteur | Protecting Defenders
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The key partners of the Special Rapporteur

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The key partners of the Special Rapporteur

The Special Rapporteur conducts all his activities independently. Nevertheless, for the proper performance of his missions and in respect with his independence, he may have to collaborate with different partners in order to better protect human rights defenders.


Human rights defenders

One of the main counterparts of the Special Rapporteur are the human rights defenders themselves.

For example, he will meet with the human rights defenders in order to enrich his reflection with their stories, personal experiences and their knowledge of the field and of the situation of human rights.

These exchanges enable the Special Rapporteur to learn about the needs and difficulties of the defenders in order to make, with the means at his disposal within the scope of his mandate, the most appropriate responses as possible.

These meetings may occur in different contexts: specific appointments, consultations, conferences, trainings, etc.


Meeting with women human rights defenders from Guatemala


Civil society

More generally speaking, the Special Rapporteur can count civil society actors among his partners including NGOs, academics and experts.

By collaborating with the relevant actors of the civil society in human rights issues, the Special Rapporteur can better fulfil the objectives of his mandate. Employees of NGOs, academics, experts or any other actors of civil society can put their experience and their extensive knowledge in favour of the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders.

 Expert meeting in July 2015

The Special Rapporteur also has partners at different levels: international, regional and state. 


UN bodies and agencies

At the international level, the Special Rapporteur may have as partners the other Special Rapporteurs, United Nations agencies or United National regional offices.

Indeed, when sending a communication to a State about the situation of a human rights defender, the Special Rapporteur may add his signatures and endorse the ones of other Special Rapporteurs. For example, when the violation suffered by the defender also relates to the mandate of other Special Rapporteurs, tall relevant Special Rapporteurs will jointly sign it so as to give more strength to the communication.

Likewise, when the Special Rapporteur is on an official visit in a specific country, he comes into contact with the United Nations regional office competent in the visited area in order to consult its agents on their comments about the situation of human rights defenders.


Regional mechanisms 

At the regional level, the Special Rapporteur can work with regional mechanisms protecting human rights. By cooperating with these mechanisms, the Special Rapporteur shares experiences and information, which allow them to compare and strengthen the working methods of each, as, when it is possible, to define common goals.

These regional mechanisms are, among others: the African Commission on Human rights and people’s rights and its Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders; the Inter-American Commission for human rights and its Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders; the Council of Europe and its Commissioner for human rights competent for human rights defenders issues; the European Union and its Guidelines regarding human rights defenders; and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for democratic institutions and human rights.


Side event on cooperation between mechanisms in July 2015 


Member states

Finally, the Special Rapporteur can exchange and work with relevant state actors for human rights defenders. Above all, the Special Rapporteur will collaborate with States authorities, including members of governments, national and local representatives, etc. As for official visits or sends communications, his key partners are the State authorities.

However, he can also work with all the actors already mentioned acting at the national level such as academics, association, experts, etc. 


Public consultation in Geneva in July 2015