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Special Procedures in the Digital Age

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Probert, T 


In this chapter, the authors outline the implications of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for Special Procedures' working methods to protect and promote human rights. They focus in particular on mandate holders' formal communications, though many implications of the use of ICTs apply more broadly to Special Procedures' work. The communications mechanism allows victims or those acting on their behalf to submit petitions documenting human rights violations to Special Procedures, who then evaluate these submissions and convert those deemed actionable into confidential communications to implicated States. ICTs have the potential to transform the communications mechanism by supporting Special Rapporteurs in raising awareness of their mandates and by providing a broader range of channels for victims to submit complaints. With these opportunities, however, come risks that are both familiar and unprecedented in their extent - including those related to inequality, security, verification, and trust. In this chapter, the authors overview ICTs' implications for each stage of the communications mechanism and make recommendations for Special Procedures on how they might mitigate associated risks. They conclude that the system would benefit from further judicious investment in digital literacy.



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The United Nations Special Procedures System

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Brill | Nijhoff
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/K009850/1) and by the Isaac Newton Trust.