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Chief Executive Officer

Catarina de Albuquerque 

Ms. de Albuquerque joined SWA in 2014. Her priorities as CEO include providing strategic leadership to the partnership, as well as being an influential and powerful advocate for SWA and managing the Secretariat. In July 2018, following a wide-ranging governance review, SWA created the position of Chief Executive Officer and Ms de Albuquerque was chosen for the position after a competitive process.

Before joining SWA, Ms. de Albuquerque was the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

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. She also participated in the development of a number of other international human rights standards, including the two Optional Protocols: one on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the one on Sale of Children, Child Pornography and Child Prostitution.

Ms. de Albuquerque was an invited Professor at the law faculties of the Universities of Braga and Coimbra (Portugal), at the American University’s Washington College of Law, at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization. She was also a Senior Legal Adviser at the Office for Documentation and Comparative Law, an independent institution under the Portuguese Prosecutor General’s Office. During her career she has also worked for the Swiss Development Agency, the European Commission, UNICEF, and UNDP, among others. She has country experience in Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Moldavia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uruguay, and USA.

She was awarded the Human Rights Golden Medal by the Portuguese Parliament (10 December 2009) for outstanding work in the area of human rights. Her work in human rights was also honoured by the Portuguese President of the Republic with the Order of Merit (October 2009), which is a recognition of an individual’s personal bravery, achievement, or service. She holds an honorary degree from the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She holds a Law Degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and a Diplome d’Etudes Superieures from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva, Switzerland).

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