ARTICLE 19 Launches Guidelines on Using UN Special Procedures for Advocacy

Quinn McKew
Executive Director, Article 19.

ARTICLE 19, the London-based international non-governmental organisation that defends global rights to freedom of expression and information, has launched new guidelines on how civil society organisations can use the UN Special Procedures to promote and protect people’s rights.

Violations of the right to freedom of expression are on the rise across the globe. In this challenging context, civil society organisations are looking for different ways to protect and promote people’s rights.

The UN Special Procedures are independent experts who report and advise on human rights. They are a tried-and-tested means of pressuring governments and other powerful actors to intervene in specific cases or reform problematic laws. Yet despite their potential, they are currently under-used by civil society.

The new guidelines explained how to engage with the Special Procedures to help prevent and cease violations, conduct investigations, bring perpetrators to justice, and provide remedies to victims or their families. Using the Special Procedures can be a powerful means of drawing attention to human rights violations, and can exert pressure on governments to reform laws and policies and bring about justice.

Unlike existing guidelines, they are highly practical and uniquely tailored to journalists, human rights defenders, and freedom of expression organisations – though their lessons will also be useful to other civil society groups.

These guidelines, available in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, were developed with the support of the UNESCO Global Media Defense Fund.