Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Post-2015 Agenda

UNPAThe final meeting of the 7th session of the conference of state parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York . This meeting was a culmination of a series of meetings that took place from the 10th to the 12th of June, 2014.

The purpose of this conference was to discuss the incorporation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda, matters related to the national implementation of the convention and its monitoring, and concern for youth with disabilities. Delegations from all the states party to the convention were present this afternoon to put forward their views and recommendations. The international community recognizes that there is a significant portion of persons with disabilities in the world (15% of the population), who are most likely to be deprived of social and economic opportunities and therefore, they require special attention towards developmental activities if we are to achieve the Millennium Developmental Goals.

The rights of persons with disabilities are deeply rooted in the foundational principles of the United Nations Charter, which aims to promote and encourage respect for fundamental human rights. Therefore, the international community has made a commitment to the advancement and development of persons with disabilities by ensuring their inclusion and equal treatment in society.

The delegation of Honduras suggested that persons with disabilities are almost invisible because there is a lack of reliable data. All states should strive to set up a reliable system that will centralize all the information and provide high quality quantified information about their people. Jamaica stressed upon the importance of transforming global perspectives of persons with disabilities. Highlighting the role of education, many states emphasized on improving access to education in order to inform persons with disabilities about their rights and freedoms.

Meeting Title – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Speakers: Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, the President of the Conference; Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights; Maria Soledad, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Shuaib Chalklen, Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development; and Lenin Moreno, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility
Date – June 12th, 2014
Location: CR 4, North Lawn Building, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT Representative– Nusrat Laskar

Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities at the UN

HRWThe moderator, Nancy Maguire started the panel discussion by highlighting the importance to acknowledge that the ‘disability’ group is not like one homogenous group and is subject to different perspectives and experiences on the basis of where they are from.

Ambrose Murangira, then shared his personal experience in Uganda. He highlighted the discriminatory practices from childhood to the community level; and faced these challenges by performing, cooperating with his friends and leading his cause. Teachers are also very important in influencing young people. Apart from disability organizations, it is important that all people take the responsibility of ensuring that the disabled community gets their rights. The post 2015 agenda in his opinion, would give this cause the right platform to be heard.

Andrea Mazzarino shared her research on children with disabilities in Russian and Japanese state orphanages. In the case of Russia, the children are abandoned by the sate. According to UNICEF at least, 305,000 children lived in Russian orphanages, which is 2-5% of Russia ‘s total child population. The children with disabilities are victims of violence, neglect and isolation in Russian orphanages. Although a vast majority of these children have one living parent, due to the doctors stating that the children will never be able to develop like normal children under immense pressure from the society, those parents give up their children. In the case of Japan, 25% of 39000 Japanese children live in state institutions; group homes for independent living and foster care have a disability. The lack of inclusion in the educational system has severed consequences in the overall development of these children.  She recommended, that these children should be provided adequate support from communities, parents and foster parents, collectively and to create independent mechanism to ensure institutionalization is used as the only resort.

Finally Rashmi Chopra, shared her research and study on women and girls with disabilities. Women with disabilities are profoundly vulnerable to abuse and often their choices are not heard and abuses remain hidden. The social stigma and exclusion impacts their multiple rights such as health education and a family life. Chopra highlighted the stories of three women from Zambia and India, respectively. Mary and Charity from Zambia were both victims of HIV AIDS and rape. They were abused by their husbands and got limited schooling. Rekha from India suffered from an intellectual disability. Her mother, without any consent and knowledge from Rekha, sterilized her, to protect her from sexual violence. These cases represent the vulnerability of disabled women and girls to abuse and violence.

Meeting Title: Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities: from Uganda, Zambia, India, Japan and Russia
Speakers: Nancy Maguire, UNICEF Global Youth Council Member; Ambrose Murangira, Executive director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf; Andréa Mazzarino, ACLS Public Fellow, Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; Rashmi Chopra, Fellow, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.
Date: 11 June 2014
Location: Conference room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

 

UNICEF discusses Developmental Challenges and Human Rights in Context of CRPD

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A panel of five speakers gathered at the Henry Labouisse Hall of the UNICEF House, to discuss and respond to the overlooked development challenges. Ms. Yannis stated that one in seven human beings has a disability out of 7.8 billion people in the world. People with disabilities are also the single largest population excluded from school. Mr. Marrit followed by highlighting the purpose of having the legally binding convention to promote, protect and ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. It also aims at promoting respect for their inherent dignity.

Mr. Paul then summarized his thoughts towards eradicating the extreme poverty and hunger by three approaches. First, promote equality in opportunities, including access to education and health. Second, introduce good governance by encouraging the right of freedom and rule of law. Third, integrate respect for all human right as cross cutting throughout the whole SDG. Following, Mr. Nicholas, senior advisor of UNICEF, briefly outlined what UNICEF is doing to ensure that no one is left behind and also emphasised the human rights and rights of person with disabilities. He mentioned that the principle of leave no one behind, has emerged as one of the key foundations of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Further, Mr. Vinicius emphasised the significance of investments in a child’s well-being and their rights, as the most effective way to secure a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable world. He concluded his speech in three words: empowerment, protection, discrimination. Ms. Diane then made very powerful points concerning language, visibility and cost. She expressed, how uncomfortable she feels when people named them as a part of a vulnerable group. She ended her speech by encouraging more young people to join the CRPD committee, in order to achieve the goals as part of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Meeting Title: The intersection of human rights and development within the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Speakers: Yannis Vardakastanis, President of European Disability Forum; Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office OHCHR; Paul Gulleik Larsen, Senior Advisor for the Agenda of the Nor Wee General; Nicholas Alipui, Director of Program and UNICEF Senior Advisor; Vinicius Pinheiro; Diane Mulligan, Member of UN CRPD Committee, Representative of IDBC and CBM
Location: Henry Labouisse Hall, UNICEF House, New York.
Date: 10 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark