29.03.2016 Week two of the Geneva marathon of Spring 2016

Today is the public opening of the 15th session of the UN CRPD Committee. Last week I participated in a pre-sessional meeting before the Easter break, so that was just my fun run.

Now I have a 4-week marathon in Geneva of back-to-back examinations, side events and briefings, all in the company of my 17 outstanding colleagues.

I’ll blog with a list of events each week, so you don’t get exhausted keeping track of this hectic schedule!

Week two
On the start line on Tuesday 29th March we will receive an update from our Chilean Chairperson Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes on activities between our 14th and 15th session (September 2015-April 2016). This will be followed by news-sharing in relation to the Committee’s work by organisations of persons with disabilities and other civil society organisations, as well as UN agencies and bodies. The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) will have a statement of their United Nation’s Task Group read by the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

Organisations of persons with disabilities from Portugal will brief the Committee at lunchtime, then the Committee will begin the first part of our six-hour constructive dialogue with the Portuguese delegation led by Ana Pelaez, Committee member from Spain, who happens not only to share the same birthDAY as me, but the same birth YEAR…so we’ll both celebrate our half century this year.

On Wednesday 30th March we’ll continue our examination of Portugal for another three hours before breaking for a quick water stop and foot massage before having 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. In the afternoon we’ll start the constructive dialogue of Thailand led by Hyung Shik Kim from the Democratic Republic of Korea.

Thursday 31st March will begin 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’ll then continue with another three-hour dialogue with the delegation from Thailand. During lunchtime, organisations of persons with disabilities from Chile will give their crucial briefing to us Committee members, so we can gain more insight into their lives. Silvia Quan Chang, Committee member from Guatemala will lead the dialogue with the State delegation from Chile until the end of the day. How nerve-wracking to be the Country Rapporteur of our Chairperson’s homeland, but Silvia is very experienced and a superb member of the Committee, so I have no doubt she will excel. Our Chairperson will of course have to leave the room, as is our practice, to maintain independence, so who will Chair the session? Find out by watching live!

On Friday 1st April let’s hope there are no pranks in the formal sessions – leave them ‘till the break (please!) Two internal working groups meet first thing in the morning, and I’ll participate, so no chance of a leisurely breakfast, straight on with the running shoes…

Chile’s examination continues from 1000hrs, followed by a closed session where the Committee members discuss any 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 complaints about their human rights.

Thanks to the International Disability Alliance (IDA), you can watch all the examinations live at: www.treatybodywebcast.org

I will be tweeting from @Diane_CBM with precise timings to tune in. You can also follow #CRPD15

You can also read summaries of the examinations on the UN media website in Geneva.

Catch me again for the third leg – week three (4th-8th April)