10 June 2003






NEW YORK, 6 June (UN Headquarters) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani of Qatar as the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the United Nations Commission for Social Development for the period 2003 to 2005.


The newly appointed Rapporteur is a founding member of the Qatari National Committee for People with Special Needs, which was established in 1998 by Sheikha Moza bint Naser Al-misnad, the consort of the Emir of Qatar, and has been serving as a Vice-President of the Committee since 1999.  She took part in preparing a draft law on the Rights of People with Special Needs, and helped to organize a number of local and regional seminars and conferences in Doha on issues relating to disability.  Recently she took part in organizing the seventh Scientific Seminar of the Arab Union of the Deaf (Doha, 2000) and the third Gulf Forum on Disability (Doha, 2003).


Ms. Sheikha Hessa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and Sociology from the University of Qatar in 1985.  Her growing interest in the area of disability led to her Master of Arts in Social Planning and Social Services at Helena University, Egypt, in 1999, with a thesis on the assessment of social care programmes for deaf Qatari children.  After earning her degree, she joined the Documentation and Humanities Research Centre at the University of Qatar (1994-1998).  Between 1998 and 2001, she was the Assistant Director in the Office of the Consort of the Emir of Qatar, and Director of International Affairs at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.


Ms. Sheikha Hessa is a member of numerous local and regional organizations, such as the Family Development Centre (Qatar), the Qatari Society for People with Special Needs, the Arab Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (Egypt) and the Arab Council for Childhood and Development (Egypt).  She recently attended various regional meetings on issues relating to disability, such as preparatory meetings in 2001 and 2002 for setting up the Coordinating Committee on Disability in Gulf Cooperation Council countries; the Conference on Disability Conditions in the Arab World (Beirut, 2002), organized by the League of Arab States and the Arab Organization of Disabled People in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs of Lebanon and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which launched the Arab Decade for People with Disabilities, 2003-2012; and the Arab Regional Meeting on Norms and Standards Relating to Persons with Disability (Beirut, May 2003), organized by the ESCWA with the assistance of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development.


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 of Sweden, was appointed in 1994, and his mandate was renewed twice, in 1997 and 2000, by resolutions of the Economic and Social Council.



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