Director, Disability Rights

Shantha Rau Barriga is director of the disability rights program at Human Rights Watch. She is responsible for monitoring developments in the field of disability rights, overseeing research on discrimination and human rights violations against persons with disabilities worldwide, and leading global advocacy initiatives.

She has carried out research and advocacy on a range of issues including: abuses against people with mental disabilities in Ghana, barriers to education for children with disabilities in Nepal, violence against women with disabilities in northern Uganda, and barriers to political participation in Peru. Shantha has also worked closely with researchers across thematic and regional divisions to produce reports that address disability issues in Argentina, China, Croatia, Iraq, Kenya, South Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, and the United States.

Shantha was a member of the UNICEF Advisory Board for the 2013 State of the World’s Children report and serves on the WHO expert group on violence against children with disabilities in institutional settings. She is also a member of the International Network of Women with Disabilities.

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Shantha participated in the negotiations toward the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has worked on a range of issues in the disability field including legal capacity, accessibility, women and children with disabilities, sexual and gender-based violence, rehabilitation and access to justice.
Shantha received degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the University of Michigan, and she was a Fulbright Scholar to Austria. She speaks German and Kannada, an Indian language.