The Special Rapporteur

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Catalina Devandas Aguilar is the first UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Catalina Devandas works with governments, international organizations and civil society institutions to ensure the active participation of persons with disabilities in social development. Through her work, she advances a vision in which disabilities are another aspect of human diversity.

Catalina Devandas is the first UN Special Rapporteur appointed by the Human Rights Council to support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Her appointment acknowledged a lifelong commitment to the promotion of human rights, and her trajectory defending the rights of persons with disabilities.

Since her appointment as Special Rapporteur in 2014, Catalina has produced recommendations on social protection, civic participation, support services, inclusive policies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sexual and reproductive rights, legal capacity and other areas that are essential for a public policy framework that is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

Catalina was born in Costa Rica with spina bifida. Since becoming a lawyer, she has worked in promoting and protecting human rights, first as a representative of civil society and then at international institutions. She has worked for the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), the United Nations, and the World Bank, and in 2006, she took part in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Through her work, Catalina is in permanent contact with representative organizations of persons with disabilities, collecting testimonies and evidence of human rights violations. This permanent dialogue is the basis on which she draws up her recommendations for regulatory changes and institutional practices, so that governments and international institutions respect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

Read more about her vision for the mandate…

The Special Rapporteur

The rights of persons with disabilities have been established in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the international community has committed to disability as a development issue in the Sustainable Development Goals and beyond. These instruments and many more show how quickly the world is changing in recognizing the equality of persons with disabilities.
 
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur brings together both human rights and development issues, assessing the progress made by states in the realization of their commitments toward persons with disabilities. In particular, the Special Rapporteur is focusing on the participation,  and full inclusion of the different experiences of disability, paying special attention to gender inequalities and the multiple forms of exclusion that affect persons with disabilities from the most disadvantaged communities.
 
For the Special Rapporteur, the inclusion of persons with disabilities is inscribed in a broader vision in which all forms of of human diversity are embraced.

The Special Rapporteur supports countries and the international community to put these new directions into practice. She guides the United Nations and its agencies, as well as responding to needs raised by specific countries. Throughout her work she is providing research and guidance based on diverse realities experienced by persons with disabilities.
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