Today the Expert Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) meets for its 17th session. After working as the UK’s elected member of the Expert Committee of the CRPD for the last four years, what has it all meant for CBM? This summary may give you a flavour of some of the achievements:
- The CRPD is a human rights treaty that underpins CBM’s work and our mission statement to contribute to an inclusive world where persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. The Committee is the monitoring and evaluation tool of the CRPD, so having a staff member on the Committee gave CBM the inside track and a global overview of issues, policies and practical implementation of disability rights in a number of countries we work in such as: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Paraguay, Thailand and Uganda. These countries now have concrete recommendations for the government to implement over the forthcoming years. This means CBM and its partners can hold governments to account to meet their obligations in areas CBM specialises in such as: disability-inclusive development, especially at a community level, mental and physical health, education, livelihoods and emergency response to name a few. CBM can also demonstrate to governments as duty bearers the important links between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals in realising Agenda 2030.
- CBM supported the work of the Committee by showcasing our partners and their valuable work and ensuring the voices of persons with disabilities from the global South were heard. This has strengthened their capacity to claim their rights and entitlements. Read more here.
- Our Member Associations contributed to the Committee’s work, and these countries now have very strong recommendations on international cooperation and humanitarian action, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 – see Germany, Italy and Australia. These governments must honour their commitments to ensure disability is at the heart of their development cooperation. CBM is considered a serious player in disability-inclusive development, disaster risk reduction and emergency response, and through working on the Committee I was able to provide expert opinion to guide recommendations on articles 11 and 32 (international cooperation and situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies).
- CBM had immediate access to the Committee which consolidated its role in building the capacity of both mainstream NGOs and members of the International Disability and Development Consortium to engage in the work of the Committee.
- CBM had the kudos and credibility of having a staff member as one of 18 world-recognised Experts on disability, which reflected very positively on the profile of the whole organisation.
- CBM were able to open doors that were previously closed with a range of stakeholders including governments. CBM was mentioned by many UN agencies and bodies during the opening of the Committee’s sessions, demonstrating CBM’s leadership especially in relation to the links between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- CBM supported accessibility requirements of Committee’s side events (briefings) by funding sign language interpretation, amongst other things, and raised awareness to celebrate 10 years of the Committee by assisting with the production of a UN video.
- Finally, I was one of six women on the Committee, which ensured gender representation and supported the work of CBM on gender equality. For the next two years, there remains just one woman on the Committee of 18 Members, but please support and advocate for more here.
I wish the Committee and all its Members many great years, and await its fruitful recommendations for the future. I also thank CBM for supporting me to have the opportunity to engage with and serve the United Nations.