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Important Notice: As of 1 November 2023, Ms. Heba Hagrass (Egypt) has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the current Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Gerard’s vision for the mandate

The existential threats facing humanity require multilateral action between States, UN agencies, and the organizations that represent all sectors of the community, including persons with disabilities. Solutions must be co-produced by all of them.

Times of crisis often reveal deep truths. The COVID 19 pandemic demonstrated that the invisibility and structural inequality faced by people with disabilities remain prevalent around the world.  Treaties protecting their rights have been signed by most countries around the world. But no matter how eloquent these treaties may be, they are insufficient to bring change to the “small places” where people live their lives.

For this, a culture shift is needed, which includes the way in which laws and policies are produced. Gerard calls this the co-production of public policy, between the State, organizations of persons with disabilities and all relevant stakeholders, and it is the basis of his theory of change.

The co-production of laws and policies makes it possible to address the interaction between disability and other personal aspects such as age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, which aggravate the stigma and discrimination that some persons with disability face. Stigma and discrimination are intersectional problems, and understanding their multiple aspects is essential for their prevention.

During his term as Special Rapporteur, Gerard is paying special attention to these intersections, and how they affect persons with disabilities’ participation and social interactions.

He has also identified a series of key global challenges facing people with disabilities and the broader human family. These are mainly humanitarian emergencies caused by pandemics, global health crises, climate change and armed conflicts, and the aggravation of extreme poverty, by widening inequalities.  

You can watch Gerard’s presentation of his vision in this video:

Find out more about his vision.