EDF at the UN Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

New York,
15 June 2017
Every year, the State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) meet at the UN headquarters in New York. The meeting is called ‘Conference of States Parties to the CRPD’ – in short COSP- and its purpose is to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the CRPD.
This year it is the 10th session of the COSP and it took place from 13 to 15 June 2017 under the theme:  photo of a panel at the COSP‘The second decade of the CRPD: inclusionand full participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the implementation of the Convention’.
EDF participated in the COSP and co-organised three side events on accessibility, refugees with disabilities, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, in his capacity as Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), EDF Vice President, Ana Pelaez, representing ONCE, EDF Executive Committee Member, Nadia Hadad, representing ENIL, and EDF Director Catherine Naughton, were in the UN headquarters for the the COSP. 

Civil Society Forum

On the day prior to the COSP, the 12th of June, there was a CRPD Civil Society Forum. The Forum gave space for open discussion and sharing of a huge diversity of experience and perspective from across the disability rights community, and the opportunity to engage with governments, UN bodies and others from across civil society.
Yannis Vardakastanis speaking Speaking at the Civil Society Forum, Yannis Vardakastanis, stated: 
"’Nothing about us without us’ is not a slogan; it is the way we understand the implementation of the CRPD: with the active and meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. The real implementation of the CRPD must be participatory and inclusive.” 
Yannis Vardakastanis also emphasized that the meaningful consultation and involvement of the organisations of persons with disabilities requires sufficient funding and capacity building. 

Side event on accessibility

‘Transforming lives: Accessibility resources for human rights in action’ was the full title of this event, which was co-organised by EDF and the European Commission. The event took place on 13 June. 
Yannis Vardakastanis spoke about accessibility as an enabler for user rights, but also about the challenges and opportunities in making accessibility a reality. Among others, he said:
“Accessibility constitutes a human right in itself. It is the pre-condition for the full enjoyment of civil and political rights, as well as social, economic and cultural rights. It is also a basic prerequisite for sustainability and its social dimension, in combating poverty and marginalisation and promoting social cohesion."
Kirin Kaja from Google said that the argument of some businesses that accessibility impedes innovation was impossible to agree with. Kirin himself knows the topic well as he is working on self driving cars and accessibility. 

Side event on refugees with disabilities

The event was entitled ‘Persons with disabilities on the move: the rights of refugees and migrants with disabilities’. It took place on 13 June.
A set of recommendations was produced as a result of the discussion, to give a tool to advocate towards the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migrants.
The panel stressed the importance of respecting the perspectives of migrants with disabilities. They called on the European Pillar of Social Rights to increase its focus on refugees and migrants with disabilities. 
Diane Kingston from CBM International said that refugee reception centers currently lack appropriate support, reasonable accommodation and accessibility. 
Mia Farah from Inclusion International said that “no-one chooses to be a refugee” and encouraged participants to talk and listen to refugees with disabilities. 
Andrew Painter from the UN Refugee Agency, said that the EU has had no choice but to deal with migration and refugees and put a bigger focus on their integration into society. He also stressed that persons with disabilities are exposed to violence, and are often excluded from humanitarian programmes. 

Side event on development cooperation

The event was entitled ‘'EU Initiative Bridging the Gap: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in line with the CRPD’ and it took place on 14 June.
Ana Pelaez, spoke about the aims of the ‘Bridging the Gap’ project: 
Ana Pelaez speaking"We can use the CRPD Committee’s General Comments and Concluding Observations to the countries involved in the project, as well as the SDGs to develop new tools for mainstreaming disability, based on collaboration at the national and the international level.”
She also emphasised the importance of taking women with disabilities in consideration throughout the project: 
“Women and girls with disabilities face multiple discrimination and generally have less access to services and experience lower levels of participation. To address these inequalities and inter-sectionalities of discrimination, a gender perspective will be embedded in each component of the project, e.g. gender-sensitive sector policy development and implementation, stakeholder participation, data disaggregation, participation in DPO capacity development, etc.”
The event was organised by the European Union and is co-sponsored by EDF, the International Disability and Development Consortium, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Spanish Cooperation, the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Republic of Paraguay.
Speaking at a side event of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) entitled "Reforming Social Services In Europe To Embrace The Human Rights Approach", Ana Pelaez also raised the following important points : 
  • How about childhood, the right to play? Children with disabilities are children and should have a childhood.
  • Age is very important- how are older people with disabilities included? They are discriminated in services.
  • How about motherhood? How are women with disabilities supported in mainstream services?
  • 60% of the population of persons with disabilities are women and girls - how are services addressing the needs of female victims of violence?

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) were working at the COSP on the issue of independent living. The CRPD Committee is now developing a General Comment on Article 19 of the CRPD on independent living. Nadia Hadad represented ENIL in New York. Nadia is also a member of EDF Executive Committee. 

Find photos and messages from the COSP, the Civil Society Forum and our side events on @MyEDF Twitter account using the hashtag: #COSP10


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