What is the special Rapporteur:

The post of UN Special Rapporteur on Disability was created in 1993 with the unanimous adoption on the Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The post of Special Rapporteur is an honorary one reflecting the faith and trust of the international community in its holder.
Hissa Al-Thani was appointed Special Rapporteur on Disability in June 2003 for a renewable mandate of three years.
The Special Rapporteur is entrusted with the task of monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Standard Rules with the objective of enhancing and advancing the status of persons with disabilities throughout the world.
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The Role of the Special Rapporteur:

The Spcial Rapporteur performs a number of duties, chief of which are the following:

  • The Special Rapporteur travels to United Nations Member States to negotiate with governments, NGOs and academic institutions to establish the logistics required for the implementation of the Standard Rules pertaining to achieving equality for persons with disabilities at the national and regional levels; and involves these organizations in her discussions with governments during her visits, in addition to placing the question of disability at the top of national priorities and following up the progress being made on the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disability and related concepts.

  • During these visits, the Special Rapporteur conducts meetings with ministers and representatives of ministries, governmental and non-governmental organizations, UNESCO and other UN agencies, presents and discusses the strategies and programs of national legislations from the perspective of Standard Rules focusing on the question of how to make arrangements for the integration of persons with disability in public plans and programs. She also collects information and data about the living conditions of people with disabilities and statistics relating to disability and the promotion of cooperation among governments and organizations in the area of disability.

  • Delivers speeches at conferences in response to invitations from responsible bodies or the hosts of such functions in different countries.

  • At those functions, and in the international, regional and national seminars and meetings that she attends, the Special Rapporteur demonstrates and explains the Standard Rules.

  • She participates in sub-regional seminars which tackle the question of enhancing the implementation of the Standard Rules in collaboration of governmental and non-governmental .During these functions, she explains the background to the Standard Rules background and their relationship to other UN documents.

  • She visits countries where she offers help in explaining the Standard Rules and helps in devising means of implementation required in certain cases.

  • She offers advice to governments based on their requests concerning how to start work in certain areas and discusses priorities concerning disability, to help governments develop strategies to implement new policies or legislation and shares information as needed, requested or desired about how other countries have used Standard Rules, or how those countries managed to solve a certain problem in the area of disability. One of the most prominent tasks of the Special Rapporteur is to function as an incentive or agent in bringing together governments and other concerned parties and involve them in joint discussions and to put the question of disability at the top of the priorities of governments, along with the possibility of initiating dialogue among concerned organizations.

  • She communicates with governments representatives concerned with disability.

  • She follows up on progress in the Conventions or new concepts emanating from the visits and, in coordination with and assistance from, the different bodies effective in the country, sends messages of follow up providing the gist of what has been agreed upon, and pointing out what remains to be done.

  • Assesses the level of implementation of UN member states through handing out to governmental and non-governmental organizations questionnaires concentrating on monitoring a number of rules that are concerned with the implementation and collection of information and uses them in her assessment and in future follow up.

  • She organizes conferences and training courses to demonstrate the Standard Rules and discuss their implementation in certain areas.

  • She coordinates the cooperation and dialogue with member states in order to replace old systems with new ones and discusses means of changing negative public attitudes about disability and new or unconventional ways of solving problems relating to public spaces and education for people with disability.

  • Assesses the feasibility of establishing international structures of cooperation between governments and national NGOs to solve mutual problems relating to the lack of access to education and the concern that arrangements concerning disability are rarely included in the agendas of developmental cooperation.

  • The Special Rapporteur should not restrict herself to visiting only the countries in response to invitations, but is expected to launch initiatives personally to pay visits and negotiate with governments and NGOs.

  • The Special Rapporteur cooperates with the Human Rights Committee and the Special Rapporteur in exchanging expertise and information according to the Social Council’s Resolution No. 2002/26 dated 24 June 2002.

  • The Special Rapporteur submits recommendations about the procedures that ought to be taken in the future concerning the formulation of a holistic international Convention and the enhancement of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

  • The Special Rapporteur offers proposals related to finding monitoring systems in the future and puts forward suggestions about the areas that should be expanded concerning the present wording of the text of the Standard Rules.

  • The Special Rapporteur expresses opinions about complementing and formulating Standard Rules and deciding the dimensions that should be expanded and enhanced.

  • She holds meetings for negotiating with the Panel of Experts and makes use of its valuable instructions. The Panel of Experts was established in 1994 and it represents six main international non-governmental organizations in the area of disability, and is considered as one of the principal elements in the monitoring process comprising five men and five women representing all the regions and possessing different expertise in the disability area.

  • The Special Rapporteur is required to obtain UN assistance and, after consulting with her Panel of Experts, to present a report to be submitted to the Social Development Committee in which she demonstrates, among other things, her opinions about continuing to develop the proposals mentioned in the previous Special Rapporteur’s Report pertaining to his third term in office and concerning complementing and developing the Standard Rules, their amplification and how to promote the participation of concerned institutions and agencies of the UN and the international and regional NGOs in the implementation of the Standard Rules.

  • She will offer suggestions to the Social Development Committee concerning the establishing of a monitoring mechanism in the future. 

  • In her report to the Committee she expresses her opinions of how to involve the concerned institutions agencies and the international and regional governmental organizations in the implementation of the Standard Rules, including the need to improve the methodology of information exchange, and lay out plans in the disability area jointly UN institutions and agencies by means of establishing joint mechanisms between the agencies.

  • Initiating information exchanging through the use of information technology and modern communication technology such as the internet to minimize financial obstacles and reduce expenses


The United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities provides for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor the implementation of the Rules. The Special Rapporteur reports yearly to the Commission for Social Development. The reports present findings on the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules and present recommendations, as requested by the Commission, on their further development. In carrying out his/her functions, the Special Rapporteur establishes a direct dialogue with Member States and with local non-governmental organizations and experts, seeking their views and comments on any information intended to be included in the reports.

The task of the Special Rapporteur is to monitor implementation  of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in 1993, and to advance the status of people with disabilities throughout the world. The first Special Rapporteur, Bengt Lindqvist ( Sweden), was appointed in 1994, and his mandate was renewed twice, in 1997 and 2000, by resolutions of the Economic and Social Council.

Activities of the former Special Rapporteur on Disability: