2014 Tutu Fellow Aua Balde has been elected Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. She was appointed to the Group in November 2020 by the UN Human Rights Council.
Enforced disappearance has become a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world. A disappearance has a doubly paralysing impact: on the victims, frequently tortured and in constant fear for their lives, and on their families, ignorant of the fate of their loved ones, their emotions alternating between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news that may never come.
In this new position, Aua hopes that together with the other members of the Working Group, they will assist the relatives of disappeared persons in establishing their fate and whereabouts, as well as to contribute to ending the practice of enforced disappearances globally. A goal is the need for universal ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Aua is a lawyer, and a member of the Portuguese and Bissau Guinean Bar Associations. For the last three years, she has been working with the United Nations within a peacekeeping context. She first joined the UN as a Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations Integrated Office in Guinea-Bissau.
Since her appointment, she presented the annual report of the Working Group before the UN General Assembly in New York. Established more than 40 years ago, the Working Group continues to play an important role in the fight against enforced disappearances worldwide, serving as a channel of communication between families of disappeared persons and Governments.
As a Henigson Fellow, she worked in Senegal with the international NGO Tostan in the implementation of Human Rights norms at the grassroots level. She has also been awarded the Governance for Development in Africa Initiative fellowship, International Law Seminar Fellowship and C.V. Starr Scholarship.