Recap of the 9th Session of COSP

The 9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD took place from 14 to 16 June at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Colleagues in attendance from CBM included Diane Kingston (IAA), Maleni Chaitoo (IAA), Kathy Al Ju’beh (DID), Maegan Shanks (DID), and our partner Risna Utami from Indonesia.

This year’s overarching theme of COSP was “Implementing the 2030 development agenda for all persons with disabilities: Leaving no one behind.” Sub-themes include:

  • Eliminating poverty and inequality for all persons with disabilities
  • Promoting the rights of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities
  • Enhancing accessibility to information and technology and inclusive development
  • Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD

As CBM we co-sponsored the side event “Situations of Risk and Humanitarian Emergencies: Article 11 in Practice” on Tuesday, 14 June in which I presented a statement on CBM’s (Emergency Response Unit) work in this area. On Thursday, 16 June I gave a statement of support and commitment at the event on the “Outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit for Persons with Disabilities,” also on behalf of CBM and the Emergency Response Unit’s spectacular work. Thank you, Valerie Scherrer and Gordon Rattray for the support, work, and information on this. Also on Thursday, the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and OHCHR co-sponsored side event, which I helped to organize, “Bridging the Gap: 2030 Agenda and the CRPD,” took place to a packed room. The event highlighted the importance of working as a unified coalition for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the SDGs at all levels.

Alt="Greeting colleagues from East Africa at COSP"

Greeting colleagues from East Africa at COSP

 

During the action-packed week, I also supported Colin Allen (World Federation of the Deaf President and incoming Chair of the International Disability Alliance) in his presentation at a High-Level Political Forum preparatory meeting with Member States. I have never experienced such a positive response to a civil society intervention from Member States at the UN! Member States from Norway, Palestine, and the Netherlands approached Colin afterward and expressed their congratulations on his intervention and that it was given in International Sign.

Maleni and Maegan were incredibly active at COSP, especially networking with the active Deaf cohort in attendance (16 countries were represented), as well as providing invaluable support to all the CBM colleagues. Thank you both!

Alt="Elizabeth, Risna, and Maegan at COSP"

Elizabeth, Risna, and Maegan at COSP

A new IDDC Inclusive Education Task Group leaflet was launched on “Costing equity: How education financing falls short for learners with disabilities” during the side event “Fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals through inclusive budgeting.” The research will be published in a final report in September in time for the opening of the UN General Assembly. CBM is involved by working with IDDC members in supporting research on disability-inclusive financing. Click here for more details. Thank you, Sian Tesni for this work and information.

Following COSP, a two-day training on disability statistics took place organized by UNICEF, International Disability Alliance, and the Washington Group. Risna, Maleni, and I participated in this workshop in which we learned in-depth information on the Washington Group and disability statistics in general.

Some interesting facts about this year’s COSP:

  • Over 70 side events took place
  • There was a record number of presenters (90) for the general debate (Member States)
  • There were 623 civil society participants
  • The new Bureau includes: incoming President from Bulgaria with Vice-Presidents from Germany, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, and Ecuador (replacing the President from Republic of Korea and Vice-Presidents from Brazil, Italy, Poland, and United Republic of Tanzania).
  • The 10th COSP will take place at the UN HQ from 13-15 June, so get ready!
Alt="Great work from great partnerships: CBM, IDA, and UN DESA"

Great work from great partnerships: CBM, IDA, and UN DESA

 

 

 

In closing, it was a real joy to connect and re-connect with so many colleagues, partners, and friends. Thank you to all of our partners and everyone who supported and helped make this a very successful COSP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown to the 9th session of COSP

The 9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD kicks off on Tuesday, 14 June until 16 June at the UN Headquarters in the lovely New York City. We have many colleagues from CBM attending this year, including Diane Kingston (IAA), Maleni Chaitoo (my stellar intern), Kathy Al Ju’beh (DID), Maegan Shanks (DID), and our partner Risna Utami from Indonesia.

Background

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) was adopted by the General Assembly by its resolution 61/106 of 13 December 2006. It came into force on 3 May 2008 upon its 20th ratification. Article 40 of the UN CRPD stipulates that “The States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties (COSP) in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.” COSP is special in that not all human rights treaty bodies have annual meetings of their States parties to report back on what they are doing. COSP creates the important space for persons with disabilities to meet fellow States parties, to network, and to share ideas and influence.

This year’s overarching theme of COSP is “Implementing the 2030 development agenda for all persons with disabilities: Leaving no one behind.” Sub-themes include:

  • Eliminating poverty and inequality for all persons with disabilities
  • Promoting the rights of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities
  • Enhancing accessibility to information and technology and inclusive development
  • Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD

As CBM we are co-sponsoring the side event “Situations of Risk and Humanitarian Emergencies: Article 11 in Practice” on Tuesday 14 June from 1.15pm – 2:30pm, in Conference Room D in which I will present. We are also involved in the side event co-sponsored by IDDC and OHCHR in which I assisted in organizing. The event is called “Bridging the Gap: 2030 Agenda and the CRPD” on Thursday, 16 June from 1:15-2:30 in Room 12. We will also be present and support IDDC members at numerous other side events and meetings, as well as the Civil Society CRPD Forum (on 13 June), which I was involved in planning.

My role is to support our CBM colleagues and partners, as well as IDDC members at COSP. I will chair an informal meeting for CBM and other IDDC members on general information sharing and an update on the High-level Political Forum (HLPF).

Since much of my work focuses on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I will be asking partners and other persons with disabilities about their involvement and advocacy initiatives on local, national, and regional SDG implementation. I hope to gather information to use as a tool for best practices. If you will be at COSP and want to share, please find me! The more information we have, the better we can advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of this ambitious global agenda for sustainable development.

We are truly fortunate to have a colleague, Diane, who is also a CRPD Committee Member. This COSP, Diane will be focusing on her campaign so cannot present at any events as it’s a conflict of interest. Click here to read more about Diane’s re-election campaign. Tuesday morning is election morning and afterward Diane will support IDDC members as well as Committee members by attending their side events. She will also provide support at a briefing for newly elected Committee members on Wednesday.

Maleni and Meg will focus on Deaf-related events and DID support and will provide a post-COSP blog.

Following COSP, there will be a two-day training on disability statistics organized by UNICEF, International Disability Alliance, and the Washington Group. Risna, Maleni, and I are all participating in this important and exciting (at least, to me) event.

Please follow us for real-time updates on Twitter here: @LockwoodEM, @Diane_CBM, @MaleniChaitoo, @MaeganShanks3, @risnawati_utami

Additional Information

The Civil Society CRPD Forum will take place Monday 13 June 2016, 9:30am – 1:00pm and will be webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/

COSP9 Information

 

UN disability committee: gender hangs in the balance

I spent a week at the United Nations in New York campaigning for my re-election to the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.   Members of the Committee are elected for four years, and can be re-elected once, so this is my final opportunity to participate in this most amazing process for advancing disability rights.

CRPD Committee election campaigning materials for Diane Kingston

CRPD Committee election campaigning materials for Diane Kingston

The election takes place in June at the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), where countries gather to share information on progress, or lack of it, towards implementing disability rights.  Crucially gender hangs in the balance for the future CRPD Committee, which I believe is a consequence of the multiple discrimination women and girls with disabilities face from birth through education, employment, training and career development.  From the 18 current members of the Committee, there are nine positions to be filled to replace those whose mandate finishes in December 2016.  Mandates end for five out of the six women on the Committee (Maria Soledad, Silvia Quan, Ana Pelaez, Safak Pavey and myself).   Of the 17 candidates running for election only three are women, which means the best possible gender balance for the future Committee is four out of 18 women members.  

The Convention states (in article 34 paragraph 4) that there must be balanced gender representation on the Committee.  Sadly, this is not going to be achieved.

Read about CBM’s work on gender equality here

 

‘At the heart’ of humanitarian decision-making

“Together we launched a ground-breaking charter that places people with disabilities at the heart of humanitarian decision-making”

When Ban Ki-moon makes a statement like that, of course it does not mean we have achieved all our goals yet but it does show a hugely positive shift in the understanding of disability in situations of crisis, conflict and disaster. Gone are the stereotypical phrases that generally lead us back to a ‘charity’ model. Instead, there is the recognition of the necessity to have us at the table where plans are made; this is the first step towards real inclusion.

This is what I was writing about before the World Humanitarian Summit opened, so it was with great pleasure that I heard Secretary-General of the United Nations close the summit in such a way.

So it is a first step, but no time to relax. Now the real work begins: ensuring the the Charter, already endorsed by more than 80 stakeholders, is used, promoted and further endorsed;  ensuring that persons with disabilities and disabled people’s organisations are really part of discussions as equal partners and not only consulted in a check-box style approval process; and increasing the exchange of skills and knowledge between the humanitarian and disability communities.

I’m flying shortly, but will add to this blog soon, with more details on events over the last couple of days and opinion/comments from participants, so do check back. In the meantime, if you weren’t following live, you can catch up here:

@CBMworldwide
@gordonrattray
@Vscherrer

And now updated, 26th May

During the events I sought the opinions of several people. Here are two that struck me as particularly relevant.

Two men at a booth in a conference. The booth has branding 'CBM HHoT, Humanitarian Hands-on Tool'

Nazmul Bari at the CBM HHoT booth in the World Humanitarian Summit Innovation Fair. HHoT is a prototype application to provide humanitarian field workers with practical guidance on accessibility

Nazmul Bari, Director, Centre for Disability in Development (CDD):

“There are many barriers that cause persons with disabilities to be left behind during humanitarian crises. These begin to take effect immediately post-disaster, with a lack of data and info meaning that rescuers don’t know specifics about who lives where. Then, the sudden change in environment means that difficult decisions must be made, like who to prioritise during evacuation; persons with disabilities are often seen as least important.

“Transportation to safe shelter may not be accessible and once reaching there we have examples where people are turned away on the grounds of their disability. Even if the shelter is reached and the person is accepted, there are considerations like safety, security and accessibility of latrines.

“As time moves on, the next priorities include ensuring that relief efforts are inclusive. Commonly, information about and location of distribution points are not accessible to everyone. As well as directly excluding some people this indirectly puts an extra burden on family members who may then have to collect and transport multiple relief items. A further consequence is that normal support systems – e.g. caring for children – may be disrupted. There are then more challenges once early recovery is underway: Are livelihood and longer-term rebuilding/reconstruction efforts taking the needs of everyone into account?”

Two women at a booth during a conference. The booth has branding 'Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities'

Nelly Caleb, co-Chair of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) at the Disability Group booth

Nelly Caleb, National Coordinator of Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association in Vanuatu, Board Member International Disability Alliance (IDA) and co-Chair of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF):

Persons with disabilities are excluded from projects and policies, even if, on paper, they are ‘included’. We must be able to actively participate. In the South Pacific we see disaster affects persons with disabilities a lot, so PDF helped different countries such as Vanuatu to developed a toolkit to help NGOs, civil societies and these countries to facilitate inclusion in their Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and disaster response work.