Dear Ambassador Villegas,
The organizations signing this letter write to you, in your capacity as President of the Human Rights Council (HRC), to request that you adopt measures to ensure that a woman is elected for the first time as the next Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) and to consider geographical representation in your decision.
On July 8th, during the upcoming 50th HRC’s session, you will have the important responsibility of proposing the appointment of several Special Procedure mandate holders, including the next SRT. Created in 1985, the SRT has had a fundamental role in upholding the absolute prohibition of torture, responding to complaints, overseeing conditions of detention throughout the world, and developing fundamental human rights standards and recommendations to promote accountability, reparation and prevention of torture. Yet, none of the 6 experts who have held this role has been a woman, and only one of them has been from the Global South.
As concluded by the HRC’s Advisory Committee in the report on gender balance in UN human right bodies presented to the HRC on 21 May, 20211, the lack of gender balance in international bodies not only affects women’s right to equality, but it also erodes the effectiveness of the institutions and limits the range of issues and perspectives that should be part of their legal and political agenda2. In the case of the SRT, this same limitation comes as a consequence of the lack of a Global South perspective in such a fundamental mandate.