01.04.2016 Reporting back from week two of the Geneva marathon of Spring 2016

The public opening of the 15th session of the UN CRPD Committee had so many amazing presentations by UN agencies and NGOs, I could not take notes fast enough! Almost everyone talked about the implementation of the SDGs and disability. The Human Rights Officer at the OHCHR and Kirstin Lange from the UNHCR mentioned e-learning courses being developed on disability, which is very promising, and a senior official at the OHCHR praised the CBM Infographic on SDG-CPRD linkages…

The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) had their statement of activities read by theInternational Disability Alliance (IDA).

Organisations of persons with disabilities from Portugal briefed the Committee at lunchtime highlighting major issues in relation to meaningful consultation processes. Article 4.3 of the Convention is rarely fulfilled in practice, and an issue almost all persons with disabilities raise as problematic. The participation and involvement of persons with disabilities is critical to ensure laws, policies and practice comprehensively uphold rights.

Following the briefing, the Committee began the first part of our six-hour constructive dialogue with the Portuguese delegation led by Ana Pelaez, Committee member from Spain.Key issues raised included deprivation of the rights to vote, and the impact of austerity measures on persons with disabilities.

Fernando Mauricio from the APD Portugal addresses the CRPD Committee
In the afternoon we began the constructive dialogue of Thailand led by Hyung Shik Kim from the Democratic Republic of Korea, and discussed issues such as the medical model definition of disability.  On Wednesday 30th Marchwe continued our examination of Portugal – in relation to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals the State delegation said it is “a long distance race, but we are fully committed” – It’s nice to know I’m not running this marathon alone! After breaking for a quick water stop and foot massage, we had a briefing by organisations of persons with disabilities from Thailand and a Q&A session to really understand the situation in the country better; a vital part of our work. 

Thursday 31st March began with a briefing from Essex University’s autonomy project, on safeguards in relation to the right to equal recognition before the law (article 12 of the CRPD). This is such a misunderstood article we published our first General Comment to guide States as to how to implement it.

We continued with the dialogue of Thailand, on topics from forced sterilisation to segregated education and institutionalisation. At lunchtime, organisations of persons with disabilities from Chile provided us with their briefing in order to gain more insight into their lives.  Silvia Quan Chang, Committee member from Guatemala will led the dialogue with the State delegation from Chile, who explained in her opening statement that the collection of disability data excluded people living on the streets, in institutions and those deprived of their legal capacity.

On Friday 1st April we had a few technical problems, but I don’t think they were April Fools’ – so it was straight on with the running shoes…Chile’s examination continued, discussing disability inclusive emergency response and the deprivation of liberty on the grounds of disability amongst others. After the dialogue closed, and a group lunch, we had a private closed session discussing communications received under its Optional Protocol (OP).  This is where individuals or groups of people from countries that have ratified the OP can petition the CRPD Committee with violations of their human rights. Thanks to theInternational Disability Alliance (IDA), you can catch up on all the examinations in the CRPD archive: www.treatybodywebcast.org

All summaries of the examinations will become available on the UN media website over the next few days.

Catch me again for the third leg – week three (4th-8th April) and follow me on Twitter: @Diane_CBM and #CRPD15