Country visits undertaken by UN Special Procedures are an essential means to obtain direct and first-hand information. They allow for direct observation of the human rights situation and facilitate an intensive dialogue with all relevant state authorities, including those in the executive, legislative and judicial branches. They also allow for contact with and information gathering from victims, witnesses, international and local NGOs and other members of civil society, the academic community, and officials of international agencies present in the country concerned
Invitations and requests for country visits
A Government may invite a mandate-holder on its own initiative. Alternatively a mandate-holder may solicit an invitation by communicating with the Government concerned, by discussions with members of the diplomatic service of the country concerned.
In instances in which an invitation is not forthcoming it is appropriate for a mandate-holder to remind the Government concerned, to draw the attention of the Council to the outstanding request, and to take other appropriate measures designed to promote respect for human rights.
Some mandate holders have opened up for the opportunity of conducting informal seminars in countries which have not accepted their requests.
Country visits to caste-affected countries
Some mandate holders have visited caste-affected countries upon the invitation of the respective governments. For more information about country visit reports and statements from special procedures in the IDSN UN compilation on www.idsn.org/uncompilation .
Country visits by mandate-holders provide an opportunity to enhance awareness at the country, regional and international levels of the specific problems under consideration. This is done, inter alia, through meetings, briefings, press coverage of the visit and dissemination of the report.
Country visits generally vary in duration between one and two weeks but can be either shorter or longer if the circumstances so require. The visit occurs at the invitation of a State. Its purpose is to assess the actual human rights situation in the country concerned, including an examination of the relevant institutional, legal, judicial, and administrative aspects and to make recommendations thereon in relation to issues that arise under the relevant mandate.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has an updated newsite with information about upcoming country visits, requests for country visits, mission reports and press releases.
Follow up to country visits
Mandate-holders can seek to enhance the effectiveness of their country visits in various ways, including by:
- formulating their recommendations in ways that facilitate implementation and monitoring;
- undertaking follow-up initiatives through communications and further visits; and
- cooperating with relevant partners.
NGOs can also submit written or oral statements to the Human Rights Council when mission reports are being presented by the mandate holders.