To the attention of the President of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michèle Bachelet
Dear Madam President,
After a year of research, the ECLJ has published a report on "The Financing of UN Experts in the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council."
At the end of this survey, which covers the period 2015-2019, it appeared that :
- many mandate holders complained that they do not receive sufficient support from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);
- 40% of their budget comes from precarious extra-budgetary funding;
- Extra-budgetary funding of a specific mandate have almost doubled since 2015;
- 37 experts have directly received nearly $11 million outside the UN control system, mainly from the Ford and Open Society foundations, and from anonymous donors;
- These direct fundings are not subject to any control by the OHCHR;
- These direct fundings are not always reported or may be incompletely reported by mandate holders;
- Some mandate-holders are in situations of conflict of interests, being paid by private institutions which have a specific agenda related to their mandate.
There is an urgent need to increase the financial transparency of the Special Procedures, in order to preserve their independence and the integrity of the system.
On the basis of 28 interviews conducted with experts, and in light of the problems caused by marked extra-budgetary funding and by direct fundings of the Special Procedures, it seems reasonable and useful to recommend:
- The obligation for the OHCHR to report annually to the mandate holders on its management of the budget allocated to each Special Procedure;
- A requirement that all extra-budgetary funding for Special Procedures be directed to the OHCHR, with a corresponding prohibition on direct funding of mandate-holders;
- The obligation to publish funding agreements;
- The obligation to declare in each report the support and funding received for its production;
- The allocation of an indemnity to mandate holders;
- The increase of the budget allocated by the OHCHR.
Madam President, the signatories of this letter urge you to consult the ECLJ report and to put on the agenda a reform of the financing of the Special Procedures, in order to fully guarantee their independence and to preserve them from any illegitimate influence.