Upon closing its 50th session this Friday (July 8th, 2022), the Human Rights Council appointed a new Special Rapporteur on the right to education: Farida Shaheed. She will be replacing Koumbou Boly Barry, former Special Rapporteur on the right to education, who had been in office since 2016. As the new mandate holder (for a maximum duration of 6 years), Farida Shaheed will have to provide recommendations to governments and other stakeholders, with the aim of guaranteeing the right of all persons to access quality education without discrimination.
As a reminder, Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council are not United Nations staff members and do not receive a salary. Hence, Farida Shaheed will be serving in her personal capacity only. She was appointed through a selection process involving multiple stages. First, she submitted an online written application which was considered by a Consultative Group (composed of 5 high-level representatives serving also in their personal capacity and nominated by each of the 5 regional groups). This Consultative Group then recommended her as a potential candidate for this mandate to the President of the Human Rights Council (currently, Federico Villegas). Ultimately, the President of the Human Rights Council identified Farida Shaheed as a suitable candidate, and the Human Rights Council subsequently approved this appointment.
Farida Shaheed is a Pakistani sociologist born in 1953. She has a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in sociology, respectively from the University of Geneva (1974) and Leeds University (1975). She has been working since 1985 as Executive Director of Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, one of Pakistan’s most prominent women’s rights organizations. Therefore, she has long been engaged in achieving gender equality and plans on continuing to make that a priority, as the New Special Rapporteur on the right to education.
This is not Farida Shaheed’s first involvement with the UN human rights system. In fact, she was already appointed Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in 2009, remaining in office until 2015. During that time, she published a report on history writing and teaching (2013), thus demonstrating a particular interest and level of expertise in children’s right to education.
Farida Shaheed later participated in the publication of Freedom Security Privacy – The Future of Childhood on the Digital World (2020), showing relevant concern with how the digital world is impacting children’s lives. Finally, she is determined to promote the rights of marginalized groups such as religious and ethnic minorities in relation to education to achieve more democratic inclusive societies. OIDEL is looking forward to engaging with her work as the new Special Rapporteur on the right to education.