Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Sheikha Hissa Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani (Qatar) as the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the United Nations Commission for Social Development for the period 2003-2005.
The Special Rapporteur is a founding member of the Qatari National Committee for People with Special Needs, which was established in 1998 by Sheikha Moza bint Naser Al-misnad, the consort of the Emir of Qatar, and has been serving as a Vice-President of the Committee since 1999. She took part in preparing a draft law on the Rights of People with Special Needs, and helped to organize a number of local and regional seminars and conferences in Doha on issues relating to disability. She also took part in organizing the seventh Scientific Seminar of the Arab Union of the Deaf (Doha, 2000) and the third Gulf Forum on Disability (Doha, 2003).
Ms. Sheikha Hissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and Sociology from the University of Qatar in 1985. Her growing interest in the area of disability led to her Master of Arts in Social Planning and Social Services at Helena University, Egypt, in 1999, with a thesis on the assessment of social care programmes for deaf Qatari children. After earning her degree, she joined the Documentation and Humanities Research Center at the University of Qatar (1994-1998). Between 1998 and 2001, she was the Assistant Director in the Office of the Consort of the Emir of Quatar, and Director of International Affairs at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
Ms. Sheikha Hissa is a member of numerous local and regional organizations, such as the Family Development Center (Qatar), the Qatari Society for People with Special Needs, the Arab Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (Egypt) and the Arab Council for Childhood and Development (Egypt). She attended various regional meetings on issues relating to disability, such as preparatory meetings in 2001 and 2002 for setting up the Coordinating Committee on Disability in Gulf Cooperation Council countries; the Conference on Disability Conditions in the Arab World (Beirut, 2002), organized by the League of Arab States and the Arab Organization of Disabled People in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs of Lebanon and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which launched the Arab Decade for People with Disabilities, 2003-2012; and the Arab Regional Meeting on Norms and Standards Relating to Persons with Disability (Beirut, May 2003), organized by ESCWA with the assistance of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development.
Her mandate was renewed from 2005 to 2008.UN Press Release SG/A/839]