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UN meetings discuss progress on disability rights


During the week of June 9th – 12th, governments, civil society and organisations representing the voice of persons with disabilities met in UNHQ to discuss progress made on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

©CBM / Nigel Kingston
Risna Utami was the only civil society speaker to speak at the opening of COSP 7
The week comprised of a Civil Society Forum and the Seventh Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

CBM attendees at the week’s event included Diane Mulligan, Deputy Director of International Advocacy and Alliances and Elizabeth Lockwood, UN Advocacy Officer in New York, as well as CBM’s partner, Risna Utami, Chair of Indonesian National Consortium for Disability Rights. Diane, Elizabeth and Risna were very active in the week’s events. Diane presented at four events. Risna also presented at four events and was the only civil society speaker at the COSP opening ceremony. Elizabeth supported CBM partners, organised logistics for two side events that took place at UNHQ and participated in training provided by UNICEF on post-2015 for youth.

The voice of civil society

A day prior to COSP, on 9 June, the Civil Society CRPD Forum (CSF) took place. The CSF is an important event in which civil society representatives, organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs), development organisations, UN agencies, Member States, academics, and researchers can have a platform to share and discuss perspectives.

The International Disability Alliance (IDA) coordinated the CSF with the  support of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), Disability Rights Fund, Human Rights Watch, and Rehabilitation International. The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, the Republic of Korea and UN DESA. For more details on the meetings, please read from our blog the post “Civil Society CRPD Forum Kicks Off Events at the UN”.

Seventh Session of COSP

The opening of the 7th Conference of States Parties took place on 10 June in which all governments that have ratified the UN CRPD meet to discuss implementation. The first day also oversaw the election of Expert members to the CRPD committee. CBM International’s Diane Mulligan has been elected until 2016.

Risna Utami from CBM was only the civil society representative in the opening session. Risna began her eloquent and powerful presentation with a personal introduction as a woman with a disability from the Global South. She continued by discussing the barriers faced by persons with disabilities worldwide and emphasised that empowerment is the key to achieve equality. Risna concluded that to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind, the post-2015 development framework must adopt goals and targets that promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, otherwise sustainable development would not be achieved. For more details read from our blog the post “UN CRPD, the Global South and Youth.”

Day 2 of COSP, June 11th, was an active day for CBM. The civil society roundtable focused on national implementation and monitoring and was chaired by Vice President of the Bureau (El Salvador). Risna Utami was one of the panellists, along with Silvia Quan (another CBM partner and CRPD Committee Member), H.E Mwaura Maigua, National Parliament and Albinism Society of Kenya, and Ms. Sylvana Lakkis Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union. CBM also co-sponsored a lunchtime side event that was organised by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on the topic “Intersectionality between the CRPD and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in relation to women and girls with disabilities.” The panel discussed the normative and analytical crossroads in which to define the legal status applicable to women and girls with disabilities, identifying measures to enable the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the impact on the social development and the post-2015 development agenda. The CRPD and CEDAW were tied into the main aspects of the discussions. For additional details, read our post “CRPD, CEDAW and CBM event”.

The second day ended with a powerful and emotional concert of the popular Argentine signer, song-writer and human rights activist, León Gieco along with Mundo Alas – a new young Argentine artist with disabilities. The event was organised by the Argentine Mission and held at the UN and was a special treat. 

The last day of COSP was CBM’s busiest. Diane and Risna each spoke at a side event on “Linking Human Rights, Disability and Development” and immediately following, Diane spoke at the side event titled “European external action – continuing the opportunity to promote the Human Rights of persons with disabilities in the world through development cooperation.” For details read our post “Human Rights and Development Cooperation”. In addition, CBM co-sponsored an event on the launch on the book Crises, Conflict and Disability: Ensuring Equality. For more details over the book launch read our post "Crises, Conflict and Disability".

High Level Event by President of the General Assembly

©CBM / Nigel Kingston
Diane Mulligan speaking at event on European External Action
In addition to COSP, the President of the General Assembly held a High-Level Event on Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda , the last of six high-level meetings and thematic debates that will feed into the post-2015 process. IDDC and IDA took advantage of this opportunity and organised an engaging side event on “The intersection of human rights and development within the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).” CBM’s Diane Mulligan was one of seven panellists and gave a fantastic presentation to over 130 active participants at UNICEF House. For more details read from our blog the post “"Human Rights and Persons with Disabilities at UNICEF”".

The way forward

In the closing session on 12 June we were provided with information on approved decisions, information on the new bureau, and the way forward for the Eighth Conference of States Parties.
Three proposed decisions for action were approved:
1. The Eighth Conference of States Parties session will be from 9-11 June 2015 at the UN HQ
2. Six meetings over three full days will continue in the 8th COSP
3. The COSP requests that the Secretary-General transmit the COSP report from the conference to all States parties and observers
The incoming bureau for the 8th and 9th COSP session were selected and they are the President, from the Republic of Korea representing the Asia Pacific States and Vice-Presidents from Brazil representing Latin American & Caribbean States, Poland representing Eastern European States, Tanzania representing African States. Who will be representing the Western European and Other Groups is yet to be confirmed. For details see our post "The Way Forward: COSP8".

Commenting on the week's events, Diane said: "It was a fruitful week that illustrated how much has been achieved since the CRPD was adopted. But it also showed that implementation brings many challenges for countries across the globe".


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