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Print this pageHow individuals can use mechanisms of the UN to submit complaints




Child Rights International Network

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CRIN Guides and Toolkits


There are a number of ways that individuals, including children or adults acting on their behalf, can make use of mechanisms of the UN to challenge breaches of their rights. Complaints can be submitted to the Treaty bodies, Special Procedures and the Human Rights Council.
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Menu: Treaty Bodies / Who to send complaints to / Special Procedures / Human Rights Council / Further information

Treaty bodies

There are number of Committees that will receive complaints from individuals, groups or their representatives (including children) who claim that their rights have been violated by a State that is a party to a convention or covenant provided that the State has recognised the competence of the committee to receive such complaints.

Existing ones:

How to complain:

Who to send the complaint to?

For complaints to the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

  • Download the Model complaints forms here

  • Mail: Petitions Team
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
    United Nations Office at Geneva
    1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
    Fax:+ 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters)

For complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women:

  • Go to: or contact:
  • Mail: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
    c/o Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
    United Nations Secretariat
    2 United Nations Plaza
    DC-2/12th Floor
    New York, NY 10017
    United States of America
    Tel: + 1-212-963-3463

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the only international human rights treaty with a mandatory reporting procedure which does not have, in addition, an existing or draft communications procedure. This is a serious matter of discrimination against children.

However a number of organisations are campaigning for such a mechanism to be established. Find out more here:

Special Procedures


Some special procedures intervene directly with Governments on specific allegations of violations of human rights that come within their mandates. The intervention can relate to a human rights violation that has already occurred, is ongoing, or which has a high risk of occurring.

How does it work

The process, in general, involves sending a letter to the concerned Government requesting information and comments on the allegation and, where necessary, asking that preventive or investigatory action be taken.

There is a minimum of information that must be provided before a decision is made as to whether or not to follow up on a request. For details go here:

To simplify the process, questionnaires regarding cases of alleged violations have been prepared for several of the mandates and are available in English, French and Spanish here: 

Children or their representatives may submit complaints to any of the SP, the following focuses on children: the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, go here:

Who to send it to

After consulting the requirements established by each mandate for the submission of allegations, information can be submitted by:

  • Fax to: +41 22 917 90 06
  • By postal mail to: OHCHR-UNOG
    8-14 Avenue de la Paix
    1211 Geneva 10

Note: Please specify which special procedure mechanism the information is addressed to in the subject line of the e-mail or fax, or on the cover of the envelope.

See also the upcoming visits of the SP:

Complaint procedure of the Human Rights Council

A new complaints procedure is being established to replace the previous 1503 procedure. This Procedure is being established to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances.

Ill-founded and anonymous communications are screened out by the Chairperson of the Working Group on Communications, together with the Secretariat, based on the admissibility criteria. Communications not rejected in the initial screening are transmitted to the State concerned to obtain its views on the allegations of violations.

Before making a complaint, you should look carefully at what the criteria are for complaints to be accepted. Go here:

Communications intended for handling under the Council Complaint Procedure may be addressed to:

Treaties and Human Rights Council Branch
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11


Links and further information


Previous CRIN Guides and Toolkits items

Organisation Contact Details:

Child Rights International Network
East Studio
2 Pontypool Place
Tel: +44 (0)207 401 2257

Last updated 07/03/2012 15:59:49

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

Your Feedback

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The Foster Care Council of Canada wrote on 19/06/2008:
I am extremely excited to see that CRIN has a campaign for a CRC Complaints Mechanism to be established. It is often extremely difficult to get any kind of change from the organizations and Ministries in Canada unless the public become aware of a tragic death of a child, and of course then it is often too late and the changes are implemented quickly to save face but without deep thought and public consultation.

I am looking forward to getting The Foster Care Council of Canada involved in the Campaign very soon.

John Dunn
Executive Director
Former Foster Child

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