Human rights: how to file a complaint with the UN

Do you believe you are in a situation where your fundamental rights have not been respected? Here are the different procedures to file a complaint at national and international levels.

With the United Nations

Filing a complaint with the United Nations human rights bodies should be used as a last resort. All domestic and national remedies must be exhausted before filing a complaint with the UN.

Before contacting the UN, it is recommended to contact a local bar association or human rights group in your country of residence for assistance. You can find a list of UN-registered NGOs here.

The website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also offers several resources for individuals who wish to bring human rights concerns to the UN. However, some human rights treaties do not have mechanisms for addressing individual complaints.

Decisions taken by human rights bodies on individual complaints are generally restricted documents, unless the body decides otherwise.


The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution. Further details about its work and contact details can be found here.

United Kingdom

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the national equity body in England, Scotland and Wales. Its contact details can be found here.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a national human rights institution in Northern Ireland. It can be contacted here.

With the European Union

If you feel your rights have not been respected in your country of residence and that it has not responded satisfactorily to your complaint, you can submit a complaint to the European Union.

The procedures for filing complaints with the European institutions are varied and complex. You can turn to “Your Europe Advice” for quick and informal advice and guidance on the most appropriate procedure for your situation. This platform can also help you to identify which European legislation may not have been respected in your situation.

Information is available in all 24 official EU languages.

With the European Court of Human Rights

Does your application concern exclusively a violation of human rights? Then you should apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

In order to submit an application, it must comply with the instructions set out in Rule 47 of the Rules of Court and those set out in the “Institution of Proceedings” document. A validly filed application will be examined by the Court, but this does not necessarily mean that it will be declared admissible.


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