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Who can file a human rights complaint?

A wide range of grievance mechanisms exist, and they cover different geographic areas, sectors of activity, principles and standards. When determining the right grievance mechanism for your complaint, it is important to familiarise yourself with a mechanism’s scope, procedures, eligibility requirements and applicability to your situation.


As a general rule, grievance mechanisms accept complaints from affected individuals, groups and/or their representatives provided the issues raised fall within the scope of the mechanism and the case meets applicable eligibility requirements. Individuals may include human rights activists, workers, trade unionists and community leaders. Groups may include trade unions, peasant associations, local communities, indigenous peoples, social movements and/or civil society organisations.

Specific requirements of complaint procedures

Each grievance mechanism may have specific eligibility requirements that must be met before a complaint will be considered. For example, some labour-related mechanisms will only accept complaints submitted by trade union organisations. Other mechanisms will only accept complaints from project-affected people or workers. There may also be specific requirements regarding a complainant’s so-called 'interest' in the matter if the complaint is filed by a person or group that is not directly affected by the corporate activity.

Jointly filing a complaint against a company

Complaints are often filed jointly by a number of individuals or groups in national or international coalitions for reasons of standing, international solidarity and relevant expertise. Complaints filed jointly by individuals and groups may also help to increase awareness of the issues nationally or internationally.