School of Law Professor appointed to prestigious United Nations role

Gerard Quinn, Chair in International Disability Law at the School of Law, University of Leeds was confirmed today as the next UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Professor Quinn is a valued member of the Centres for Disability Studies and Law and Social Justice at the University. Colleagues were delighted to hear of his appointment; knowing that he will bring to this important role a passionate commitment to ensuring that disabled people’s human rights are guaranteed, their dignity is respected and their wellbeing is assured.

Professor Quinn told us that some of his immediate priorities will be to ensure that as the world reacts to crises facing humanity, including Covid-19, climate change and the scourge of armed conflicts, disabled people are not forgotten. He wants to ensure that their voices are heard, loud and clear, within global responses.

Professor Quinn also wants to focus the world’s attention on all the positive contributions disabled people are making to peace-building, nation-building and development, globally. 

Ever conscious of the need for systemic change to build on the gains of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), he will also be drawing attention to the need for structural and cultural change, to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Quinn previously served as Vice President of the Council of Europe’s treaty monitoring body on social rights, as a civil servant in the European Commission and as Director of Research in the Irish Government’s Law Reform Commission. He drafted the leading 2002 UN Study that helped start negotiations on the UN disability treaty and led global human rights commissions during the final stages of negotiation. 

A truly international scholar and advocate, Professor Quinn also holds a part-time Chair at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (Sweden) and honorary appointments in China (Shanghai, Wuhan), India (Hyderabad), and Australia. He has won many awards for his international work from, e.g. US International Council on Disability.