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APC has joined the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and 130 organisations from around the world to set out the criteria that should be at the heart of the selection of the next UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders plays a key role in the recognition and protection of those who promote and defend human rights. These individuals, organisations and groups often face serious challenges and risks as a result of their human rights work, and the mandate seeks to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders around the world. It does this in many ways, such as by promoting the Declaration on human rights defenders; studying trends, developments and challenges faced by human rights defenders, including those with specific protection needs; recommending concrete and effective strategies to increase protection; and seeking, receiving and examining information on individual cases. The mandate engages with a wide variety of stakeholders, collaborating particularly closely with states and human rights defenders themselves.

The appointment of independent, impartial, competent and expert persons from all regions of the world as mandate holders is essential to ensuring a well-functioning system of Special Procedures, which, in turn, is of crucial importance to the functioning of the Human Rights Council. The selection and appointment of mandate holders, through a transparent and merit based process, on the basis of relevant expertise for the mandate in question, real and perceived independence, impartiality, personal integrity and objectivity are of crucial importance for the effective functioning of the mandates. This document provides information on the application process for candidates for the position of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, formal criteria for selection of a mandate holder, and a checklist of criteria intended as an interpretive aid for those criteria.

States may use the document to strengthen national consultations processes for the identification of suitable candidates. It is also intended as a checklist that can be used by the Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group and the President of the Council to ensure that only highly qualified and independent candidates are considered and appointed.

The signatory organisations call on governments, NGOs and others, including relevant professional networks, to use this checklist of criteria to identify eligible candidates for the upcoming vacancy for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. We urge governments to consult civil society and human rights defenders in their countries, and to disseminate the vacancy widely so as to encourage candidates to apply for this vacancy.

In particular, we encourage nominations of human rights defenders from marginalised groups or from communities and identities that are under-represented among Special Procedures mandate holders, including women and gender diverse persons.

Read the full document and list of criteria here.