United Nations Special Rapporteur
Special Rapporteur, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Independent Expert are titles given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations (UN) within the scope of "Special Procedures" mechanisms, who bear a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council, either a country mandate or a thematic mandate. "Rapporteur" is a French-derived word for an investigator who reports to a deliberative body.
The mandate by the United Nations has been to "examine, monitor, advise and publicly report" on human rights problems through "activities undertaken by special procedures, including responding to individual complaints, conducting studies, providing advice on technical cooperation at the country level, and engaging in general promotional activities." However, the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures Internal Advisory Procedure to Review Practices and Working Methods (25 June 2008) manual simply calls these individuals mandate-holders. Other applications of the role include "Special Representative of the Secretary-General" or "Independent Expert", or a working group usually composed of five members, one from each region of the planet.
Appointed by the Human Rights Council of the UN, these mandate-holders act independently of governments. The earliest such appointment was the 1980 Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances responding to Commission on Human Rights resolution 20 (XXXVI). The first Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions reporting to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1982/35 begun work in 1982.
They do not receive any financial compensation for their work, but they receive personnel and logistical support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
To mark Human Rights Day in 2006, the 37 Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives and Independent Experts issued a joint statement on the importance of human rights in the fight against poverty.
Special Rapporteurs often conduct fact-finding missions to countries to investigate allegations of human rights violations. They can only visit countries that have agreed to invite them.
Aside from fact-finding missions, Rapporteurs regularly assess and verify complaints from alleged victims of human rights violations. Once a complaint is verified as legitimate, an urgent letter or appeal is sent to the government that has allegedly committed the violation.
Thematic Special Rapporteurs are typically appointed to serve for three years, after which their mandate can be extended for another three years. Country Special Rapporteurs are appointed to serve for one year, and their term is renewed every year.
In June 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council, which replaced the UN Commission on Human Rights, extended the mandates of all Special Rapporteurs by one year to enable it to conduct a review of the mandates and seek ways of strengthening their roles. However, Special Rapporteurs for countries which did not approve a Special Rapporteurs came under question and the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs for Cuba and Belarus were not renewed.
Other controversies between the Special Rapporteurs and the Council include the introduction of a code of conduct which initially disallowed the Special Rapporteurs from addressing the media. However a compromise was reached and a code of conduct now exists for the Special Rapporteurs.
In September 2013 United Nation Special Rapporteur for housing Raquel Rolnik was condemned as an "absolute disgrace" Grant Shapps, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, majority party in the Coalition government of the United Kingdom, when she released what was described as a "one sided report' in to housing policy changes by the United Kingdom Government. Rolnik later apologised for calling the change in policy a "bedroom tax".
Current thematic and country mandates
There are 37 Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives and Independent Experts who serve under the following country and thematic mandates:
Countries and territories
- Burundi - Fatsah Ouguergouz, Independent Expert on Human Rights (2010– )
- Cambodia - Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights (2009– )
- Eritrea - Sheila B. Keetharuth (Special Rapporteur on human rights 2013- )
- Haiti - Michel Forst, Independent Expert on human rights (2008– )
- Myanmar - Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on human rights (2010– )
- North Korea - Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on human rights (2010– )
- Palestinian Territories - Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on human rights (1993–xxxx), (March 26, 2008– )
- Somalia - Shamsul Bari, Independent Expert on human rights (2008– )
- Sudan - Mohamed Chande Othman, Special Rapporteur on human rights (2005– )
- Iran - Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights (2011- )
- Adequate Housing - Raquel Rolnik (2008– )
- Contemporary Forms of Slavery Gulnara Shahinian (2007– )
- Cultural Rights Farida Shaheed (2009-)
- Democratic and Equitable International Order - Alfred-Maurice de Zayas (2012-)
- Education - Kishore Singh (2008– )
- Effects of Economic Reform Policies and Foreign Debt on Human Rights - Cephas Lumina (2008– )
- Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary executions - Christof Heyns (2008– )
- Extreme Poverty and Human Rights - Magdalena Sepúlveda (2011 -) 
- Right to Food - Olivier De Schutter (2008– )
- Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and of Association - Maina Kiai (2011– )
- Freedom of Opinion and Expression - Frank William La Rue (2008– )
- Freedom of Religion or Belief - Heiner Bielefeldt (2010– )
- Human Rights Defenders - Margaret Sekaggya (2008– )
- Independence of Judges and Lawyers - Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva (2008– )
- Minority Issues - Rita Izsak (2011– )
- Physical and Mental Health - Anand Grover (2007– )
- Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence - Pablo de Greiff (2012- )
- Protecting Human Rights while Countering Terrorism - Martin Scheinin (2005–2011) Ben Emmerson (2011-)
- Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance - Githu Muigai (2008– )
- Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography - Najat M’jid Maala (2008– )
- Torture - Juan E. Méndez (2008– )
- Trafficking in Persons - Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (2008– )
- Violence against Women - Rashida Manjoo (2009– )
- Human Rights and Access to Safe Drinking water and Sanitation - Catarina de Albuquerque (2008- )
- Human Rights and International Solidarity - Rudi Muhammad Rizki (2005– )
- Human Rights and the Illicit Movement of Toxic Waste - Calin Georgescu (2008– )
- Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises - John Ruggie (2005– )
- Human Rights of Indigenous People - James Anaya (2008– )
- Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons - Chaloka Beyani (2010– )
- Human Rights of Migrants - François Crépeau (2011– )
- Human Rights and the Environment - to be determined (2012- )
- United Nations Human Rights Committee
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- United Nations Commission on Human Rights
- United Nations Human Rights Council
- Special Rapporteur
- "Human Rights Council elects Advisory Committee Members and approves a number of Special Procedures mandate holders". United Nations. 2008-03-26. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- Human Rights Council concludes nineteenth session, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Magdalena held a similar role from 2008, but her position was only upgraded to Special Rapporteur status in 2011.
- Mary O'Hara (2013-02-26). "Magdalena Sepúlveda: 'Austerity is devastating for the world's poorest'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-03-07.