Communications on alleged violations of the right to food
The Special Rapporteur is authorized to receive and transmit communications on alleged violations of the right to food. The Special Rapporteur receives communications from a variety of sources, including NGO’s, CSOs and individuals. These communications detail ongoing and imminent violations of the right to food, as well as violations that have occurred in the past. The Special Rapporteur transmits communications to those allegedly responsible for the violations. These communications outline the alleged facts of the case, detail the human rights obligations of the party concerned, and request more information about the case. The Special Rapporteur is expected to report on those cases where he issues communications to the Human Rights Council.
What kind of communications can the Special Rapporteur send?
The Special Rapporteur can issue two forms of communications in response to alleged violations. Urgent appeals are for cases of imminent danger of violation(s) of the right to food of individuals and/or communities or those where violations are occurring or the speed of an intervention is particularly relevant; and allegation letters are sent if violations have already occurred or the situation is of a less urgent character. Depending upon the specificities of the case, a communication may be sent jointly with other special procedures mandate holders.
Are there requirements for submitting information to the Special Rapporteur?
No formal requirements exist for submitting information to the Special Rapporteur on alleged violations of the right to food. The exhaustion of domestic remedies is not required, nor is a legal argument about the case. Any person, group or organization can send information to the Special Rapporteur irrespective of the relationship with the victim(s) of the alleged violation.
What information should be included in communications to the Special Rapporteur?
Information submitted to the Special Rapporteur on alleged violations should include a detailed description of the circumstances of the case. It should be as precise and as succinct as possible while providing a complete statement of the situation, and may be accompanied by annexes providing written or photographic evidence of the facts. The information in the letter should include:
- Victim(s): Name, number and full details on the location of the affected people, community or individual(s) whose rights allegedly have been violated or are under threat.
- What happened: Detailed circumstances of the alleged violation(s). 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 people/communities have or will be affected by them.
- Perpetrator(s): Detailed information on the person(s) or institution(s) responsible for the alleged 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: Has the matter been reported to the administrative or judicial authorities of the State concerned? If applicable, what actions have been taken by the relevant authorities to remedy the situation?
- 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 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.
What procedure will the Special Rapporteur follow after receiving information?
After receiving information on an alleged violation, the Special Rapporteur seeks to determine the credibility and validity of the information and decides whether it is advisable to send a communication to the Government(s) or other party(ies) concerned, and whether an allegation letter or an urgent appeal is more appropriate.
The decision to intervene is at the discretion of the Special Rapporteur. Due to the large number of cases received, it is not possible to respond to every situation. This decision will depend on various factors, including the credibility of information received; the detail provided; and the possibility that an intervention by the Special Rapporteur may have a positive impact.
Can the Special Rapporteur conduct follow-up after sending a communication?
The Government or other alleged human rights violators may react to the Special Rapporteur’s letter and investigate the alleged facts, or take action to prevent or end any violation. However, this is not always the case. In some cases, the Special Rapporteur may follow up with further written communications or other actions, such as providing the Government with a written evaluation of the situation and specific recommendations. In some cases, the Special Rapporteur may issue press or other public statements addressing the situation. Resource limitations, however, make it impossible to follow up on every case, and past experiences have shown that much of the impact of the Special Rapporteur’s actions depends on the mobilization of civil society.
Will the communications sent by the Special Rapporteur be made public?
A summary of all the communications sent by the Special Rapporteur during the year, along with the responses received from the Governments concerned, are published in a joint communications report submitted to the Human Rights Council periodically. The summaries also contain links to the text of the communications as sent. Copies of these reports can be found at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/CommunicationsreportsSP.aspx.
Will the Special Rapporteur maintain the confidentiality of the sources submitting information to him?
The communications from the Special Rapporteur are confidential, and the sources are not disclosed.
Where can I submit information?
Information regarding alleged violations of the right to food can be sent by email, fax or post at the following addresses:
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
Post: OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland