Image Description: Newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Emeritus Professor of Law, Gerard Quinn. His appointment symbolizes a new dawn for disability rights across the globe. Note: The role of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities is very important for creating systemic change. This means they have the power to change the way governments run.

Professor Gerard Quinn has been appointed the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

Gerard Quinn is professor emeritus in law at the National University of Ireland (Galway).

He is also currently a professor of law at the University of Leeds and at the Wallenberg Institute in the University of Lund, Sweden.

He sits on the scientific committee (advisory board) of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (EU FRA, Vienna).

He has a lot of experience in international disability rights. You can read more about his previous work experience here.

Professor Quinn stating his plans on the new role, said that he will work to ensure that the voices of persons with disabilities are heard in global responses to Covid-19, climate change and wars.

He highlighted the need to make big changes to support the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He wants to focus attention on the cultural and structural changes needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The role of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities is very important for creating systemic change. This means they have the power to change the way governments run.

Persons with disabilities in Nigeria and all over the world face barriers in their participation as equal members of society. According to UN, this mandate was created to among other things;

“Strengthen efforts to recognize, promote, implement and monitor the rights of persons with disabilities from a human rights-based approach, in line with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the broader human rights framework”

“Recall the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and the need for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed the full enjoyment of these rights without discrimination.”

The Human Rights Council first established the mandate on the rights of persons with disabilities in 2014. The mandate was most recently renewed in 2020, through a resolution.

Special rapporteurs are expected to serve for 3 years but this can be extended for another 3 years making it 6 years in total. Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar was the first and erstwhile UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of PWDs, appointed in 2014 and served her term until 31 August, 2020.

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