Human Rights and the CRPD – What Lies Ahead?

The World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) brought together over 800 activists, professionals and supporters of the global blindness movement to celebrate achievements and prepare for the future.

The gathering

Under the motto "Human Rights and the CRPD – What Lies Ahead?", the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) held their General Assemblies In Orlando/Florida from 18 to 25 August. 841 delegates and participants from both organisations met to reaffirm the strong commitment to make all human rights real for the estimated 285 million blind and partially sighted people around the globe. It was also an important opportunity to take stock of recent successes and to inject new energy into the movement for the years to come. 

Some Key Themes

The assembly days offered an opportunity to discuss a wide range of key topics for blind and partially sighted people around the world of which three stood out:

  1. The implementation of the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities
  2. The entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty and
  3. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In all three areas, major progress has been reported during the assemblies. While this is overall a positive trend, it was highlighted in all sessions that implementation of those key documents/alongside many others, remains a top priority for blind and partially sighted people over the coming years. For example, the Marrakesh Treaty, which will enter into force on September 30th this year, presents ground breaking potential for an improved access to print and electronic information by millions of blind people including in developing countries. The Treaty will remove copy right barriers which today hinder cross-border access and exchange of thousands of books, leading to the "book famine" for millions of people. But it will only achieve this, if many countries ratify the treaty, especially those who produce most of the published information. The WBU, together with its partners, will continue its fight for an equal access by blind and partially sighted people to published information, an indispensable step for realising equal participation in society!

The four years ahead

Following the General Assemblies, both WBU and ICEVI are entering the next quadranium with renewed energy and leadership. As stated, a key focus will be placed on implementation of existing commitments and conventions by all countries. In that regard, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will play an important part. And CBM, both globally and at country level, will continue to seek partnership with the blindness movement, in order to assist in realizing human rights for all blind and partially sighted people.