“In my time as Commissioner I focused on the rights of people who find themselves in situations of vulnerability. MDAC is a key organisation which understands the issues, and provokes governments to remind them of their human rights commitments. We need your support to continue the fight.”
Thomas Hammarberg took up his role as Honorary President of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center on 2 April 2012. In this voluntary role, Thomas leads the organisation’s efforts to make a difference to people who have been abandoned by their families, marginalised by their politicians, and too often ignored by the human rights community.
Thomas Hammarberg served as the second Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe during a six-year mandate from 2006 to 2012. During his time as Commissioner, Thomas sought to integrate the rights of people with disabilities into his Office mandate. To this end, he produced several viewpoints, including on the rights of people with disabilities, on legal capacity, on monitoring institutions, on the right to political participation. Following a country visit to Bulgaria in 2009 – during which he participated in a roundtable organised by MDAC – he wrote an extended section on the rights of kids with disabilities in his resultant country report. In 2012 he published two commissioned issue papers, one on legal capacity, and one on the right to live in the community.
Prior to his role as Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas held various senior human rights appointments including Secretary General of the Stockholm-based Olof Palme International Center (2002-2005), Ambassador of the Swedish Government on Humanitarian Affairs (1994-2002), Secretary General of Save the Children Sweden (1986-1992). He was Secretary General of Amnesty International (1980-1986), and at received on behalf of Amnesty International the Nobel Peace Prize 1977.
Originating from Sweden, Thomas has held several other roles. He served as Regional Adviser for Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2001-2003). For several years, he was the Swedish Prime Minister's Personal Representative for the UN Special Session on Children, as well as the Convener of the Aspen Institute Roundtables on "Human Rights in Peace Missions". Thomas served as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for human rights in Cambodia (1996-2000). He also participated in the work of the Refugee Working Group of the multilateral Middle East Peace Process.
Mr Hammarberg has published widely on various human rights issues, particularly on children's rights, refugee policy, minority issues, xenophobia, Roma rights as well as international affairs and security. He is also well known for his presentations and lectures on human rights at various governmental and academic institutions.
Mr Hammarberg delivered the first MDAC Distinguished Lecture at Central European University on 15 May 2012.