In Brussels, 7 October 2020 – The European Network on Independent Living – ENIL welcomes the appointment of Prof. Gerard Quinn as the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, succeeding Catalina Devandas.

Our organisation’s close cooperation with Prof. Quinn goes back at least 15 years, to Ireland, and we have had the opportunity to support his nomination for the position of UN Special Rapporteur from the start of the process.

Prof. Quinn has been particularly helpful in our advocacy on the use of European Union funds in relation to the right to independent living. He has been instrumental in helping us get the message across that using these funds to build and refurbish institutions of any size goes against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and EU law.

In this respect, Prof. Quinn’s keynote presentation during the Estonian Presidency conference on Independent Living in 2017 was of great importance, as well as his subsequent technical advice to the European Commission (including his 2018 legal memo), the aim of which was to stop investments of EU funds into institutions of any size, and to ensure full implementation of the CRPD and EU laws. Earlier this year, Prof. Quinn intervened in the first case to the General Court in Luxembourg on the use of EU funds for segregation of persons with disabilities in Bulgaria, brought jointly by ENIL, the Validity Foundation and the Centre for Independent Living Sofia. Last month, we had the opportunity to hear from Prof. Quinn at our webinar on the use of EU  funds to build new institutions.

We look forward to continued cooperation with Prof. Gerard Quinn in his new role, with a view to advance the right to independent living for all disabled people in Europe and worldwide. Following on from a great working relationship with Catalina Devandas and her insistence on prioritising the lived experience of disabled people, we hope to focus on issues such as deinstitutionalisation, access (and cuts) to personal assistance, the use of EU funds, children’s right to grow up in a family and the right of older people with disabilities to participation and being included in the community.

We wish Prof. Quinn all the best in his new mandate.