Catarina de Albuquerque is, since December 2014, the Executive Chair of the global partnership Sanitation and Water for All. From 2008 to 2014 she was the first United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, having played a pivotal role in the recognition of water and sanitation as human rights by the UN General Assembly. During her tenure she published two books – On the Right Track (a compilation of good practices in implementing the human rights to water and sanitation) and a Handbook on Implementing the Rights to Water and Sanitation. She undertook 15 official country missions and submitted over 20 reports to the HRC and the GA.
Between 2004 and 2008 she presided over the negotiations of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the UN General Assembly approved by consensus on 10 December 2008. Before that she negotiated at the UN, on behalf of the Portuguese government or of the European Union, several treaties and resolutions, including the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, as well as on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflict.
For almost 20 years Catarina de Albuquerque was a Professor at the Law Faculties of the Universities of Braga and Coimbra (Portugal) and a Senior Legal Adviser at the Office for Documentation and Comparative Law, an independent institution under the Portuguese Prosecutor General’s Office. She is the Vice-President of the Portuguese Association for Victim Support.
She holds a Law Degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon, a DES from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales and received a doctor honoris causa degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Catarina de Albuquerque was also awarded the Human Rights Golden Medal by the Portuguese Parliament for outstanding work in the area of human rights. Her work in human rights was also honored by the Portuguese President of the Republic with the Order of Merit.