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UN expert welcomes legal capacity reform in Colombia to end guardianship regime


GENEVA (29 August 2019) – A UN expert has welcomed Colombia’s new law guaranteeing the exercise of legal capacity by persons with disabilities, describing it as a major achievement in the recognition of their full citizenship.

“This newly adopted law eliminates all forms of guardianship in Colombia, while also establishing support mechanisms to fully enjoy this fundamental right,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas. “This is a huge step towards the equal recognition of persons with disabilities before the law.”

The Colombian initiative joins similar reform processes taking place in Peru and Costa Rica, positioning Latin America’s countries as global leaders in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the Latin American region towards the recognition of persons with disabilities as subjects of the same rights and obligations as everybody else. We must acknowledge the importance of this reform taking place in Colombia, and encourage its immediate implementation by the Government,” the UN expert said.

Devandas also called upon other States around the world to follow the Colombian example and undertake similar reforms, eliminating the legal barriers that restrict the legal capacity of persons with disabilities.

“The international commitment to leave no one behind is within our reach. The recognition of legal capacity as an inalienable right of all persons, with or without disabilities, is a fundamental step to its fulfilment,” the Special Rapporteur said.


Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilitiesin June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms Devandas Aguilar has worked extensively on disability rights and inclusive development for the past 20 years, including with the World Bank, the United Nations, and international donor organisations that supported the work of organisations of persons with disabilities to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Her work priorities include socioeconomic inclusion, the promotion of full citizenship of persons with disabilities, and embracing diversity/understanding that persons with disabilities are part of human diversity.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Colombia

For press enquiries and additional information, please contact:
Ms Cristina Michels (+41 22 928 9866 / cmichels@ohchr.org), Ms Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to sr.disability@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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