Tag Archives: UN CRPD

India to get new act for persons with disabilities

In a promising win for millions of persons with disabilities in India, a bill that had been pending for two years in Parliament was passed on the very last day of business for the Winter Session in the Lok Sabha on 16th December.

The bill paves the way for a new act for the rights of persons with disabilities and will replace the two-decade-old the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

The news brought relief and ushered a wave of enthusiasm among disability organisations and activists who had been holding peaceful vigils over the past month or so to remind the parliamentarians that the bill should not get delayed for the next session. The Winter Session had witnessed stormy scenes resulting from divided opinions over the much discussed demonetisation move by the government.

A rare unity

It was heartening to see that members, cutting across party lines, decided to unite ensure that the much awaited bill is passed. The concensus also highlights the positive changes that have taken place since the Disability Act 2015 came into force with both the policymakers and political leadership in the country showing stronger concern for rights and participation of persons with disabilities.

In fact, the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, passed the bill within two hours after a short debate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present in the house during this period. Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha too had witnessed similar bonhomie for passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

A new phase of empowerment

The bill ushers in a more progressive policy and legal framework for the government, organisations and persons with disabilities to achieve inclusion and equal rights for persons with disabilities.

“The New Act will bring our law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRD. Further, the new law will not only enhance the Rights and Entitlements of Divyangjan but also provide an effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the Society in a satisfactory manner.” says a text from the Prime Minister’s official website.

Among the salient features of the bill is disability being defined as an evolving and dynamic concept and the types of disabilities being increased from seven to 21. It is important to underline that while some of the specific reservations and affirmative actions have been earmarked for persons with disabilities based on degree of disability defined in the law, the bill takes a much wider view of disability and the dynamic social group that it constitutes.

Though the 2011 national census identified 2.6 percent of India population constituting of people with disabilities, there has been a persistent demand for making a higher allocation of resources and reservation in jobs/education for persons with disabilities. Though the bill provides for reservation in vacancies in government establishments from the existing 3% to 4%, this is short of 5% that disabled peoples’ organisations were demanding.

Accessibility has emerged as a key policy and public campaign agenda for the government of India with its flagship Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan or Accessible India Campaign. The bill calls for strengthening the campaign and institutionalises this through a focus on accessibility in public buildings (both Government and private) in a prescribed time frame.

A provision that has generated mixed reactions is related to penal action mandated for offenses committed against persons with disabilities. The disabled peoples’ organisations feel that the wording of the statement related to it leaves a lot to subjective interpretation as it says ‘discrimination against a disabled person (would not be punishable) if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.

The bill specifically mentions women and girls with disabilities and acknowledges that ‘special measures’ should be undertaken to protect the rights of women and children with disabilities.

The women’s rights groups, however, feel disappointed with the lack of specifics, as they had been asking for the incorporation of a separate subsection that would address the needs of women with disabilities following the guidelines set out by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read a summary of key provisions of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, on Prime Minister Modi’s web portal.

Opening doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, together with its Optional Protocol (which provides for the right of individual petition to the Committee), was adopted on 13th December 2006. The Convention rapidly came into force in May 2008, and has retained its momentum in rate of ratifications – to date 170 countries have ratified the Convention.  See a map of country ratifications here.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, you can read about many global activities, along with highlights over the last 10 years here.  The United Nation’s annual photograph and film festival on 3rd December showcases the best global contributions, and includes a short film by CBM Australia linking the Sustainable Development Goals and disability rights.
CBM International supported the design of the official Office of the High Commission for Human Rights logo and animated icons for the 10th anniversary, as well captioning and sign language for a film by members of the Expert Committee on the Convention, and a beautiful musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva.

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Today is a time to reflect on the participation of persons with disabilities, and their representative organisations who inspired the drafting process of the Convention. The United Nations General Assembly in New York constantly supported the active involvement of disability organizations in the drafting of the Convention. A broad coalition of organisations of persons with disabilities and allied NGOs formed the International Disability Caucus, the unified voice of organizations of people with disabilities from all regions of the world. One of its members stated that its goal was “to open doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights”. The level of participation of organisations of persons with disabilities and NGOs in the drafting process was probably unprecedented in United Nations human rights treaty negotiations. By the Ad Hoc Committee’s final session, some 800 organisations of persons with disabilities were registered.
Beyond the negotiations, organisations of persons with disabilities have been actively involved in the lifecycle of the Convention. They were closely involved in the signing ceremony on 30 March 2007 and have been involved in the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Conference of States Parties and the Human Rights Council’s annual debates on the Convention. I have been a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2013.


Please join in the celebration the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.

Los ODS y las personas con discapacidad en Perú

Muchas gracias, Alba de la traducción! (Para la versión inglés clic aquí/For the English versión click here: “The SDGs and persons with disabilities in Peru.”)

El 22 y 23 de Agosto, Alba Gonzalez y yo proporcionamos un curso de capacitación nacional sobre la Agenda 2030 y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) y la Convención de los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad (CDPD) de la ONU en Lima (Perú), financiado por CBM. La presentación se dirigió a los líderes de las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad y sus aliados, algunos de ellos miembros de CBM. Aunque he dado diversos cursos de capacitación sobre los ODS este año, éste fue el primero en español. Esto es extremadamente importante ya que América Latina a menudo es apartada de los procesos sobre desarrollo a nivel global, particularmente en lo referido a los ODS. Estoy orgullosa de haber llevado a cabo este curso junto con mi compañera Alba quien trabaja desde Bruselas, así como de haber tenido el apoyo de mi compañera Gonna quien trabaja en Guatemala. Muchas gracias a las dos por el magnífico trabajo y apoyo!

Cursos de capacitación a nivel nacional sobre los ODS como este son increíblemente valiosos ya que CBM y otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil que trabajan en la Agenda 2030 tienen la responsabilidad de asegurar que los principales actores están informados y que son capaces de contribuir de una manera significativa. Una manera de conseguir esto es proveer un intercambio de información así como herramientas para las estrategias de incidencia política relativas a la implementación de los ODS.

El curso fue interactivo y ofreció un espacio para un diálogo constructivo en el que las ideas, aprendizajes y sugerencias fueron compartidos. Presentamos una información general sobre cómo los ODS y la CDPD están conectados y cómo éstos se refuerzan y complementan para la incidencia política. Además, dimos información sobre el contexto de seguimiento global y los procesos de revisión con una recapitulación del Foro Político de Alto Nivel (HLPF) de este año, las lecciones aprendidas del proceso de las revisiones voluntarias nacionales (VNR), las estrategias y cómo involucrarse en futuros HLPF. Finalmente, dimos un modelo de incidencia política nacional para la inclusión de las personas con discapacidad en la implementación nacional de los ODS.

Perú es un país estratégico que apoyar, ya que es muy probable que contribuya con una revisión voluntaria nacional en el Foro Político de Alto Nivel de los próximos años y las personas con discapacidad deben involucrarse en el proceso de consultación nacional. Los gobiernos de América Latina que han sido revisados este año en el HLPF – Colombia, México y Venezuela – no contaron con la sociedad civil durante dicho proceso, incluyendo las personas con discapacidad, de forma que ésta es una región con una importancia particular que hay que apoyar.

Alt="Alba, Elizabeth, y líder de la OPD en la formación en Perú"

Alba, Elizabeth, y líder de la OPD en la formación en Perú

Durante el curso, los participantes ofrecieron diferentes ejemplos de las barreras que las personas con discapacidad encuentran en el país para llevar a cabo una incidencia política efectiva:

  • Hay una falta de información accesible sobre incidencia política para las personas con discapacidad y sus familias a nivel nacional y regional
  • La sociedad en general tiene una falta de conocimiento y una actitud negativa o centrada en el modelo médico sobre las personas con discapacidad
  • Hay escasez de estadísticas disponible y fiable sobre las personas con discapacidad
  • Hay una falta de transparencia en el gobierno
  • En áreas rurales, hay acceso limitado a la tecnología e Internet debido a la falta de electricidad
  • Se necesita capacitación sobre estrategias de incidencia política
  • La mayoría de las personas con discapacidad viven en estado de pobreza e incluso pobreza extrema
  • Hay un limitado transporte que sea accesible, asequible y fiable
  • Hay una participación limitada de las personas con discapacidad en redes más generales de la sociedad civil y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil a nivel general no siempre incluyen a las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad
  • Los grupos de personas con discapacidad pueden aislarse centrándose en un tipo de discapacidad y no siempre colaboran como una coalición más amplia
  • Puede existir una falta de empoderamiento y capacidad de liderazgo en las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad

El grupo dio diversas sugerencias sobre cómo efectuar una incidencia política para la inclusión de las personas con discapacidad en la implementación de los ODS:

  • Identificar puntos de entrada para la incidencia política para las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad en diferentes regiones y niveles de gobierno (municipios, distritos, provincias, regiones y a nivel nacional).
  • Colaborar como un movimiento de discapacidad más amplio para conseguir una incidencia política más efectiva a nivel nacional
  • Construir alianzas con Organizaciones No Gubernamentales (ONG) y sociedades de la sociedad civil de diversas áreas temáticas
  • Las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad de Lima se comprometieron a la implementación de los ODS acorde con la CDPD con los líderes de las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad mediante mesas redondas con organizaciones civiles nacionales así como crear un plan nacional de accesibilidad
  • Llevar a cabo un curso sobre accesibilidad e incidencia política para diferentes líderes de organizaciones de personas con discapacidad para reforzar sus capacidades y unificar el movimiento de discapacidad

Fue un gran placer para mí volver a América Latina, donde he vivido y trabajado, para conocer antiguos y nuevos socios de CBM, así como trabajar y aprender de las organizaciones de personas con discapacidad y sus aliados en Perú. Continuemos los vínculos globales!

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.


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