E. Tendayi Achiume is a core Promise faculty member who stewarded our International Human Rights Clinic for many years and is currently serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Special Rapporteurs are selected by the UN Human Rights Council to advise the UN on their specific mandate. Professor Achiume is the first woman to serve as UNSR on Racism since the position’s inception in 1993.

What is the Special Rapporteur’s Mandate?

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism is an independent human rights expert who is appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and serves for a term of three years, with the possibility of a one-term renewal.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of its Special Procedures body of independent experts. These experts conduct independent fact-finding and monitor thematic issues or specific country situations. They are not employed or paid by the UN. Their work is conducted on a voluntary basis, and is independent from governments or organizations. 

Globally, millions of people continue to be the victims of racism, racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and related intolerance. The Special Rapporteur on Racism monitors the contemporary and evolving forms of these injustices, including transmitting urgent appeals and communications to States regarding alleged violations of international law. They also undertake fact-finding country visits and submit reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. 

For a full list of what the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism monitors, click here.

Thematic Reports

What is a thematic report? 

The Special Rapporteur submits annual thematic reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. A thematic report is a human rights examination of a broader, cross-cutting issue from a thematic perspective—in this case, contemporary forms of racism. In preparing a thematic report, the Special Rapporteur investigates country conditions and consults governments, experts, international NGOs, members of civil society, as well as other studies and literature.

Country Visits

In addition to her thematic reports, the Special Rapporteur carries out official UN missions to select countries to determine the human rights issues and challenges related to the mandate in those national contexts.

Country Visits to Date:


One powerful component of a Special Rapporteurship is the ability to listen to everyday people and civil society organizations when they raise concerns about human rights violations. The formal process for flagging these issues with the Special Rapporteur means filing a submission/complaint.

To aid this process, Special Rapporteur Achiume has developed a custom toolkit for submissions related to her mandate. Once received and processed, one potential outcome of a submission is that the Special Rapporteur identifies a possible human rights violation and issues a communication.

Communications are official letters from the Special Rapporteur to governments of UN Member States, businesses, military or security companies, and/or international organizations. These communications ask for more information and clarification while reminding recipients of their human rights obligations.

Race & Human Rights Reimagined Initiative

We’ve repackaged the UN Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Reports into Fact Sheets, events and reports — making them accessible for students, practitioners and advocates who are interested in working on issues of racial justice and human rights.

Explore Our Catalog of Race & Human Rights Resources

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