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CBM participate in UN summer meetings on disability rights

A room of delegates during a debate/discussion
Front row, from right, Risnawati Utami (Indonesian Consortium for Disability Rights), Luisa Fenu (CBM EU Policy Officer) and Catherine Naughton (CBM Director IAA and Chair of IDDC) at the Conference of State Parties in New York, July 2013 in New York

CBM IAA at the Conference of State Parties and the Civil Society Forum in New York, July 2013, and looking forward to the September 2013 High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD).

Focusing on inclusive development and the post-2015 agenda

It has been a busy summer for the CBM Advocacy and Alliances (IAA) team and CBM partners on the international advocacy front.

In July, a number of us travelled to New York to attend the Conference of State Parties, which is an annual meeting of governments who have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the Civil Society Forum, which is an opportunity for Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and organisations working with persons with disabilities to come together to discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the CRPD.

This year both of the meetings had their focus firmly on the post-2015 agenda and the future of inclusive development, and in particular on the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD), which is an upcoming event in Mid September 2013. The CBM IAA team and partners actively participated in both meetings and this article offers some highlights from the busy week.

Civil Society Forum

Three women on a panel during a debate/discussion ©CBM
From left, Risnawati Utami (Indonesian Consortium for Disability Rights), Amina J. Mohammed (Secretary-General s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning) and Catherine Naughton (CBM Director IAA and Chair of IDDC) at the Civil Society Forum in New York, July 2013 in New York
The Civil Society Forum, which took place the day before the Conference of State Parties, was a well attended meeting and the focus of the day’s discussion was the post 2015 agenda. The meeting was coordinated by the International Disability Alliance and co-sponsored by UNDESA, the governments of Australia, Bulgaria, Mexico and New Zealand, along with the support of other organisations, including the IDDC, which Catherine Naughton from CBM currently chairs.

The day was split into four thematic sessions, one of which was chaired by Catherine, and included Ms Amina Mohammed the special adviser to the UN Secretary General commenting on the High Level Panel Report stated what we must look to achieve is “to leave no-one behind, to bring everyone forward”. This message is particularly important for the work CBM is doing globally for disability inclusive development and also sends a message to all development actors that development must be inclusive of everyone.

DPOs and disability organisations also had the opportunity to discuss their involvement with the post 2015 processes and highlight what they expected from post 2015 agenda.

Ms Risna Utami, from the Indonesian Consortium for Disability Rights (ICDR), described the post 2015 process in Indonesia and highlighted the impressive work that the Consortium undertook to ensure that persons with disabilities were included in the post 2015 development framework. Our CBM team in Indonesia have been collaborating with Risna on raising the issue of disability and the MDGs in Indonesia, and towards the High Level Panel.

During her eloquent presentation, Risna listed several crucial points in relation to DPO’s participation in the post 2015 framework and these included the need for the implementation of human rights-based approaches, increasing the level of awareness of governments understanding and attitudes on disability and increased participation of persons with disabilities in all levels of development planning. The presentation gave a clear roadmap of actions needed for development to be truly inclusive of persons with disabilities.

The closing session of the event included representatives from the International Disability Alliance and UNDESA. It is worth closing out this short report on the Civil Society Forum by highlighting important comments from Yannis Yannis Vardakastanis, the chair of IDA on what the post 2015 development framework needs to achieve.

“Persons with disabilities were absent from the Millennium Declaration, and remained absent throughout the MDG processes. This cannot happen again. Now is the time to recognize the shortcomings of the MDGs, and ensure a positive shift towards mainstreaming disabilities in the new global partnership, beginning in 2015”.

Conference of State Parties (COSP)

A woman presenting during a conference (a screen shows sign language translation and subtitles are shown below) ©CBM
Anika Rahman Lipy (from CBM partner CDD in Bangladesh) presenting the work of CDD at the Conference of State Parties in New York, July 2013
The 6th annual COSP took place from 17–19 July 2013. CBM colleagues and partners were eager to participate particularly after such an energetic Civil Society Forum, the day before.

The overarching theme of this year's meeting was 'ensuring adequate standard of living: empowerment and participation of persons with disabilities within the framework of the CRPD' and it included also a number of sub themes; economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies; disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and habilitation for inclusive society. As the event spanned three days, this short report presents some highlight; however if you would like to read about it in more detail, check out the daily bulletins, which provide a record of discussions.

The three days presented a lot of food for thought and the number of government presentations on the progress they were making on implementing the Convention was good to see. A key message that we took away from the discussions was - there needs to be allocation of resources to ensure the implementation of the Convention. Many speakers highlighted the good laws that were now in place at national level on disability, however without resources these laws cannot achieve their goal of equality of opportunity for persons with disabilities. One comment worth noting in this respect was made by a member of the Kenyan national parliament “People cannot eat laws- those laws need resources to implement them. You need to fund the programme to implement the rights”.

Among the many interventions made at COSP, it was very exciting to listen to Anika Rahmans Lipy’s presentation on the work of the CBM partner Centre for Disability in Development (CDD). She spoke in a lively and engaging way about the comprehensive range of work done by CDD in including people with disabilities in development, in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), in education, in livelihoods. She entertained the whole conference when she talked about CDD's work in direct empowerment of people with disabilities: teaching people about their rights was resulting in the CDD receiving calls from local government offices who were being bombarded by people with disabilities coming to claim their rights. This highlighted a great example of disability rights in action.

As with the opening of COSP, the closing date featured a general debate and different UN organisations presented their work on disability inclusive development. For example Ms. Rosangela Berman Bieler spoke about work of UNICEF on children with disabilities, she highlighted UNICEF’s flagship publication, the 'State of the World’s Children', which focuses on children with disabilities, this year. Another example of an intervention that was of interest to CBM’s work was Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom’s who gave an update on the Global Framework of Action, the evaluation of which revealed that the disability perspective was given to little attention and is thus identified as a priority in the follow-up.

For more reading about this years COSP and previous years, go to the UN Enable website.

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