Author Archives: Diane Kingston

Diane Kingston

About Diane Kingston

Diane Kingston is the Deputy Director of CBM International Advocacy and Alliances (IAA), working with Lars Bosselmann. She also served as the UK's elected member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for four years. Read her Wiki page: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Kingston

Four years and 41 countries later…what it all meant for CBM

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

    Nassozi Kiyaga from Deaf Link Uganda participates in 15th session of CRPD Committee

    Nassozi Kiyaga from Deaf Link Uganda participates in 15th session of CRPD Committee

  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

 

 

UN disability rights committee to review 8 countries

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is meeting in Geneva from 20 March to 12 April 2017 to review the following countries:  Moldova (21-22 March); Iran (22-23 March); Cyprus (23-24 March); Bosnia and Herzegovina (27-28 March); Jordan (28-29 March); Armenia (29-30 March); Honduras (30-31 March) and Canada (3-4 April).

CBM will present a statement in the Committee’s opening session highlighting the importance of retaining a focus on Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals in its final recommendations to each country.

The eight countries to be reviewed are among the 172 States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and so are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 18 international independent experts.  CBM’s presence in Canada enabled critical input into shaping how Canada will deliver disability-inclusive Sustainable Development Goals, so we hope this will be reflected in recommendations on international cooperation.  In the same light we hope the recommendations for Jordan will highlight the additional barriers faced by refugees with disabilities in camps who have fled from Syria.

crpd-10yr-logo-small

During the meetings in Geneva, Committee members will hold question and answer sessions with the respective State delegations. They will also hear from organisations representing persons with disabilities, NGOs and national human rights institutions.

Venue: Room 17, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Time: Each review runs from 15:00 to 18:00 Geneva time and continues the following day from 10:00 to 13:00.  The public sessions will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/

The issues likely to be discussed, the States’ reports, plus information from civil society organisations can be found here.
The Committee will publish its findings here on 13 April 2017.

What is CRPD and why is it important?

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a human rights treaty designed by representatives of the international community – including people with disabilities, government officials, representatives of non-governmental organisations and others – to change the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated in their societies.

The Convention lies at the heart of what CBM strives for in its vision to contribute to an inclusive world where persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

Rather than considering disability as an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the Convention challenges people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue. The Convention covers many areas where obstacles can arise, such as physical access to buildings, roads and transportation, and access to information through written and electronic communications. The Convention also aims to reduce stigma and discrimination, which are often reasons why people with disabilities are excluded from education, employment and health and other services.

There are around 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. They are often the poorest of the poor. The stigma and discrimination they are subjected to are common in all societies. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is important because it is a tool for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the same rights and opportunities as everybody else.

The CRPD commmittee is the international monitoring body that currently exists to guarantee that States that have ratified the treaty (CRPD) will promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

More information on the CRPD

– See more here

Equality, non-discrimination and CBM

Each  year the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva has an interactive dialogue on disability. Find out more about the HRC here. You can watch the discussion here.

The theme of this years report is on equality and non discrimination, article 5 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) publishes its thematic report to the HRC on theme as the background to the discussion. Read an easy read version here

The importance of this event is captured by Facundo Chavez, Human Rights and Disability Advisor (OHCHR) ‘Promoting equality and non-discrimination in the UN Human Rights Council is key for the international community to engage on bridging the gap on inequalities within and among countries’.

For CBM, equality and non-discrimination is critical to our mandate to inspire action and transformative change, including challenging discrimination which in the turn leads to reduced opportunities for persons with disabilities to fully participate in economic, social, cultural, civil and political life. CBM promotes strengthening systems and service provision, especially at the national level to ensure equality and non-discrimination. In addition, our mandate includes gender equality which specifically addresses multiple and intersectional discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities. This is aligned to not only to article 5 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities- CRPD – (as well as article 6 and General Comment No. 3) but also to Sustainable Development Goal goal 5 on gender equality.

Human Rights Council in action

Human Rights Council in action

If Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals promise to ‘leave no one behind’, the transformative power of a comprehensive approach to discrimination and substantive equality as stated in the CRPD must be harnessed. A non-discrimination approach and/or protection against discrimination alone does not address the rights persons with disabilities. Instead substantive equality demands that social systems and structures transforms and changes. Positive measures must be taken by States and changes must be made to the underlying physical environment, information and communication provision. In additions specific support for persons with disabilities, including reasonable accommodation, must be implemented to achieve equality. The denial of reasonable accommodation must be understood as disability- based discrimination.  And essentially budgets and resources must be allocated to achieve these changes.

In countries where CBM works we must support governments to design responses to difference and diversity that addresses the heterogeneity of persons with disabilities and specifically addresses multiple and intersectional discrimination, for example indigenous women with disabilities living in rural areas. We must ensure reasonable accommodation is provided to enable all persons with disabilities to participate in all aspects of life, including critically in fora where decision- making affects them, from the global to the local levels.

The 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goal 10 on reducing inequality including on the basis of disability, must be based on the concept of discrimination in the CRPD if the implementation is going to address all persons with disabilities in all parts of the world.

CBM is committed to challenging discrimination across its stakeholder constituencies, whether donors, partners, civil society, alliances or governments. Both the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda provide valuable tools and benchmarks to combatting discrimination and achieving substantive equality for persons with disabilities. We must harness them to drive our vision forward.

Alternative interventions for improved mental health – reforming policies and practice

Participants from 40 countries came together for an international three-day conference on mental health and support in the community, different approaches and services, broader systems and the role of stakeholders in scaling up and developing or reforming policies.  The conference was convened by the International Network Toward Alternatives and Recovery (INTAR) 2016, in Pune, India.

small candles burning surrounded by flowers

small candles burning surrounded by flowers

A few days ago the conference organisers sent an email asking for feedback on our key learnings and our messages for the world.

During the conference I asked my CBM colleagues two questions. What will you take back to CBM? And what will you do differently?

Samina Jahan from CBM’s Bangladesh Country Office said “Currently we are implementing a community-based mental health project through a partner organisation and we are using a twin track approach.  The person is at the centre.  On the one hand they engage with their families, community, organisation of persons with disabilities, and on the other hand people receive medical interventions. The way forward is to look at alternatives to medical interventions such as theatre, art, yoga and may how these may contribute in the next project.” 

Technical Advisor Sammy Schubert realised “there are key opportunities for CBM Australia to promote the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities are both policy and community level.  At the policy level, we need to advocate for the repeal of mental health laws and policies that for violate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the development of laws and policies that are UNCRPD compliant. At the community level our programs need to support The development of inclusive communities that embrace diversity where people with psychosocial disabilities can live independently and with dignity.” 

Finally, Madhavan S.A, Senior Programme Office from CBM’s South Asia Regional Office iterated that “the current focus of our mental health work is predominantly on by a medical interventions and links to livelihood and income generation activities. This workshop help me to understand the importance of intentional peer support systems and also to look at other alternative therapies.  The workshop also reinforced CBM’s core belief of supporting community-based mental health.”

sweeping patterns of white on coloured background

Indian folk art that symbolizes tradition, creativity and religion.

So my feedback?

I heard about the concept of ‘scaling out’ or ‘scaling across’ rather than just scaling up – think of the ripple effect of throwing a stone into water and the concentric circles, which challenges the idea of vertical scaling up.  It is something that will shape my ideas of implementing disability rights at a programme level.

I also learned about the role of people at the community in identifying and supporting people with psychosocial disabilities, specifically homeless people.  I now understand how the Chai seller plays a pivotal role in providing information and knowledge about the daily mental health of their customers.  My take away message – think local, think cultural, think context!