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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Appointment of Special Advisor for International Disability Rights

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 2, 2010


The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor announces the appointment of Judith Heumann as the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. Special Advisor Heumann will lead the Administration’s efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of persons with disabilities internationally; coordinate an interagency process for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; ensure that foreign assistance incorporates persons with disabilities; lead on disability human rights issues; ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in international situations; and conduct public diplomacy, including with civil society, on disability issues.

During the July 24, 2009 announcement of the U.S. signature to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Secretary Clinton noted that “expanding opportunity and supporting human rights are among the most important guideposts of our foreign policy.” The Secretary further noted that “discrimination against people with disabilities isn’t only an injustice, it is a strain on economic development, a limit to democracy, a burden on families, and a cause of social erosion.” For these reasons, the Secretary expressed her commitment “to make support for people with disabilities a central element in the State Department’s strategy worldwide.”

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Heumann was the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia. From June 2002-2007, she served as the World Bank's first Adviser on Disability and Development, and Lead Consultant to the Global Partnership for Disability and Development. Ms. Heumann served as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the U.S. Department of Education from 1993-2001. Ms. Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged persons.

Special Advisor Heumann may be reached at 202-647-4298. The executive assistant to the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Katherine Guernsey, may be reached at 202-647-1677.

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PRN: 2010/887

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