The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has a mandate to protect human rights by promoting the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession. She serves in a voluntary capacity and is independent of the UN, States, and non-governmental organizations.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes different activities, including:

Country visits
She conducts two official country visits each year. These in-depth visits involve meeting with authorities, judges, lawyers, community justice advocates, civil society organizations, and others, and result in a report that includes concrete recommendations. The reports are presented each year to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Thematic reports
The Rapporteur writes two major reports on key themes each year. One is presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the other is presented to the UN General Assembly in New York. In many cases, the Rapporteur will invite submissions and convene consultations in order to inform the reports.
She issues formal letters, known as “communications,” to States and other entities raising concerns about alleged human rights violations relating to the independence of judges, lawyers, and community justice advocates. Most communications remain confidential for 60 days, at which point they, along with any responses received, become public on a UN database. Communications may be issued in response to information the Rapporteur receives from civil society organizations and individuals. Details about how to submit information to the Rapporteur can be found here.
The Rapporteur engages States, international organizations, judges, lawyers, community justice advocates, academics, and others in dialogue through public and private meetings, consultations, and other activities.

The current Special Rapporteur, Margaret Satterthwaite, was appointed to a renewable three-year term by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2022, and assumed the role on November 1, 2022. More information about the mandate is available here.


Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the “special procedures” of the Human Rights Council—independent human rights experts with mandates to monitor, report, and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.


The Special Rapporteur disseminates her work on social media and her website. You can follower her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, or subscribe to her newsletter.