In its upcoming 45th Session (14 September to 6 October 2020), the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council will appoint a new Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities. It will be the second time that a person is mandated by the Council to report on issues related to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including country visits and annual reports (further information on the rapporteur’s activities here). Until then, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar was appointed with this mandate since 2014, including an extension in 2017.
MHE would like to use this opportunity to express its gratitude for the Special Rapporteur’s work on mental health and the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Ms. Devandas-Aguilar’s tireless commitment to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities has been a key driver of disability rights being recognized internationally. Her commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), in particular its principle on participation of persons with disabilities, will be remembered as proof for making the Convention a reality. Throughout her work, she largely contributed to the change of paradigm, moving away from a medical and towards a social and human rights-based approach to disability. This is particularly important for mental health and persons with psychosocial disabilities.
Together with MHE and others, such as the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Network for (Ex-)Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP), Ms. Devandas-Aguilar was a close ally in numerous initiatives, such as the opposition to the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention prepared by the DH-Bioethics Committee at the Council of Europe. Following her thematic report, she also supported MHE in its latest publication on legal capacity and supported decision making in mental health.
We are looking forward to continuing the great collaboration with the following UN Special Rapporteur and wish Ms. Devandas-Aguilar all the best for her future endeavours.
The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the ‘Special Procedures’ of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.