Daily Bulletins from the 5th COSP

September 14, 2012
Source: UN Enable


Fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 12-14 September 2012, UN Headquarters, New York

14 September: Interactive Dialogue: Implementation of the Convention by the UN system and Closing Session


Morning session (only): 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ambassador Marten Grunditz (Sweden) chaired the panel composed of Ms. Cecilia Martínez de la Macorra, Director of UN-Habitat; Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (DSPD/DESA); Mr. Craig Mokhiber, Chief of Development, and Economic and Social Issues Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and Mr. SelimJahan, Director of Poverty and Practice, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ms. Bas outlined some of DESA’s efforts to include disability in the global development agenda at various international fora, including the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.  She also referred to DESA’s role in linking the normative work of the UN with the operational activities at the country level through technical cooperation that strengthened national capacity to implement the CRPD. Finally, Ms. Bas highlighted the need for data and statistics on disability and development, especially for vulnerable groups such as women, indigenous persons and youth, as well as the importance of a disability-inclusive post-2015 agenda.

Ms. Ito spoke on the promotion of internationally comparable data and statistics for the monitoring and evaluation of disability-inclusive development. She noted that disability statistics are crucial for making persons with disabilities more visible, as they are essential for informing legislation, policies and programmes.  Ms Ito informed the meeting that, of the 119 countries for which data is now available, 82 countries (70 per cent) collected information on disability, compared with 54 per cent from the ten years earlier. The Report of the Secretary-General entitled “Strengthening disability data and statistics, analysis, monitoring and evaluation” provides more details and contains a recommendation to initiate a periodic United Nations global report on disability and development.

Mr. Craig Mokhiber of OHCHR spoke of his organization’s work to promote the ratification and implementation of the CRPD through its country offices, as well as the production of knowledge products, training tools and materials. Hen noted that OHCHR serves as the Secretariat for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. OHCHR also works on training civil society organizations to monitor progress of the implementation of the CRPD. Mr. Mokhiber highlighted the establishment of the multi-donor, multi-partner trust fund UNPRPD), launched in 2011. Mr. Mokhiber presented several studies and reports produced by OHCHR including the High Commissioner’s thematic study on participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life and a report on violence against women and girls with disabilities. Mr. Mokhiber also discussed the UN’s work on improving standards for accessibility, acknowledging that despite progress, much work has yet to be done for the UN to become fully accessible.

Ms. Martinez (UN-HABITAT) highlighted the issue of disability in the context of cities and the importance of urban planning, noting the call of the CRPD for a supportive environment for persons with disabilities. She stressed the role of advocacy and participation to ensure accessible spaces in cities, also underlining that accessible cities are better cities for everyone. Ms. Martinez emphasized the use of public spaces and inclusive design, calling for collaboration and partnerships at the local, national and international levels. Ms. Martinez underscored the role of data and its use for policy, as well as opportunities for disabled and non-disabled children to learn from each other.

Mr. Selim Jahan (UNDP) highlighted the moral and development implications of focusing on the issues of persons with disabilities. He outlined UNDP’s work at the analytical, programmatic and country levels, facilitating dialogue, supporting the ratification of the Convention and exploring models for delivery of legal services.  UNDP is currently developing an internal guidance note on applying the CRPD in UNDP programming. Mr Jahan provided information about the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD), which is a partnership between six UN entities (ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF, DESA, WHO). The UNPRPD Fund is aimed at developing capacities of Governments, as well as organizations of persons with disabilities to effectively implement the CRPD.

Ambassador Grunditz then took questions and comments from the delegations of Mexico, Thailand, Sweden, South Africa, Nigeria, Qatar, Egypt, Kenya, the World Health Organization, Civil Society, and the Global Alliance of Accessible Technologies and Environments. Qatar, Egypt and Kenya asked the panel to further elaborate on specific aspects of their programmes and methods to translate policies into concrete actions; Thailand and South Africa expressed concerns over the accessibility of ICT, and numerous delegations requested additional coordination between the UN and State parties to increase the accessibility of UN facilities and all events. Panel members responded to delegates and provided additional resources for information, specifically for UNDP (www.mptf.undp.org) and DESA (www.un.org/disabilities).

There podium was reset for the second panel, consisting of Mr. Ibrahim Salama of OHCHR; Professor Ronald McCallum, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Mr. Shuaib Chalklen, UN Special Rapporteur on Disability; Ms. Akiko Ito of SCRPD.

Mr. Chalklen highlighted his commitment to vulnerable groups, especially women and children with disabilities. He then read a statement submitted to him by Women Enabled that underlined the importance of having women with disabilities participate in all UN committees and meetings.  Mr. Chalklen called for a transparent high-level meeting in 2013 inclusive of of persons with disabilities.

Professor McCallum congratulated those elected to the Committee and highlighted the prominent role of persons with disabilities on the Committee, noting that 17 of its 18 members have a disability.  Professor McCallum clarified that the rights of disabled refugees are covered under the CRPD. He stated that he would appeal for additional meeting time for sessions of the Committee at the forthcoming meeting of the Third Committee of the General Assembly.

Mr. Salama highlighted the importance of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, stressing in particular the need to provide the Committee with adequate support, while taking note of the fact that the UN treaty body system has doubled in size since 2004.

During the Q&A session, questions and comments were received from Israel, the Philippines and Panama. Israel confirmed its ratification of the CRPD this week, while the Philippines highlighted the importance of funding towards disability initiatives and requested that they be a priority in national budgets. Panama requested additional time in future meetings to the general debate.

The general debate was resumed where delegates of Turkey, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Peru, Syria and Japan and the ICC took the floor, discussing, interalia, their efforts to implement the CRPD. Summaries were then provided by the Rapporteurs of the sessions of the Conference.

The Chair presented his concluding remarks stating that it was a true privilege for him to chair two sessions of the Conference of States Parties. He thanked the Bureau for their work and Secretariat for their support and facilitation of the Conference.

He called for the universal ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol stating that it the Convention was a comprehensive and state-of-the-art instrument. He sated that a common task for the international disability community was to promote a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond, noting that the Convention and Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) would occupy center stage, as it was the magic formula behind the successes scored so far by the global disability movement.

He then closed the fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


13 September: Discussions on children and women with disabilities



Morning session: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mr. Raymond O. Wolfe (Jamaica) announced the continuation of the General Debate. Representatives from India, Spain, and Cyprus spoke about how the CRPD will continue to be used to strengthen national policies, while representatives from Syria, Panama, and Korea highlighted their States’ commitments in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities against discrimination. The representative from the European Union described the planned establishment of a European framework for accessible goods and services.

Round Table 2: Children with Disabilities

Mr. Wolfe opened Round Table 2. The panelists were: Ms. Ms. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities of South Africa; Mr. Nick Alipui, Director of UNICEF Programmes; Ms. Ximena Rivas, National Service for Disability of Chile; Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and Ms. Jenny Nilsson, World Federation of the Deaf - Youth Section.

Ms. Bogopane-Zulu, spoke about the need to strengthen capacity and mechanisms on universal access and design measures and standards. She also called for improved enforcement mechanisms, including putting in place responsive appeal mechanisms for parents. She stated that it is essential to provide support for parents’ and youth organizations, empowering children and youth with disabilities to participate in decision-making. Although progress has been made over the past ten years, education still needed to be made more inclusive. The lack of early interventions, inaccessible transportation, and the shortage of access to justice stand as barriers to inclusiveness for children with disabilities.

Mr. Alipui, spoke about four main themes in his presentation: the importance of the CRDP and especially its effective implementation, the issues at stake, what needs to be done, and the partnership requirements necessary to strengthen programs for children with disabilities. Mr. Alipui noted that UNICEF is actively engaged in utilizing the CRPD to empower children and is using the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey to gather statistical data on the situation of children with disabilities and their families. The 2013 edition of UNICEF’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Children will be devoted to the theme Children and Youth with Disabilities.

Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children spoke about the pattern of violence against children with disabilities. Children with disabilities do not have the same access to justice as does the general population and violence against children with disabilities is frequently made invisible. The perpetrators of such violence act with impunity, and furthermore, due to stigma and prejudice, violence against children with disabilities is often portrayed as less serious than violence against other groups. Girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable, suffering physical violence as children and sexual violence, later in life. Despite this bleak picture, there is some cause for optimism, thanks in part to the CRPD and its rapid ratification by many countries. She noted that in order to adequately address violence against children with disabilities the following must be done: make adequate investments in early childhood education, promote public awareness for professionals working with and for children with disabilities, make necessary legal and policy reform, ensure adequate participation of disabled youth and children in decision-making processes, expedite the ratification process of the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure of the Convention on the Rights of the Child  

Ms. Rivas noted that states have made progress in securing the rights of children with disabilities, but much more work needs to be done, especially in the field of early childhood learning.  Ms. Rivas also stressed the need for more concrete public policies focusing on children with disabilities.

Ms. Jenny Nilsson, World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) in her presentation noted that only a small portion of the audience was under the age of thirty; this is problematic, as youth with disabilities should be stakeholders in the decision making process. This pattern extends to the NGO sector as well; the small number of such organizations shows the lack of support for the youth with disabilities to be involved in the disability movement.

Raviat Singh, a 14-year-old boy with a disability also addressed the round-table discussion, sharing his story of attending an inclusive school in India, where teachers had been there to help him “without being overprotective”.  He had made friends, as he was determined not to let his disability slow down his life, he recalled, stressing:  “Fears and inhibitions are in the mind.” He also highlighted the importance of the CRPD in protecting his rights.

Representatives from  Panama, Egypt, Argentina, Kenya, Senegal, Jamaica Guatemala, Sweden, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Sudan and the Republic of  Korea all posed questions or delivered statements during the interactive exchange. Responding to the questions, Ms. Nilsson reaffirmed that deaf children who use sign language are bilingual and have a right to an education in their native language. Many of the speakers emphasized the importance of providing adequate support to parents of children with disabilities, as well as involving children in decision-making processes that affect their lives.  Mr. Richard Rieser, a representative from UK Disabled Peoples Council, emphasized that all of the articles of the Convention are relevant for children, and not only article 7.

Mr. Wolfe concluded the session by turning the floor over to the representative from Israel who exercised the right to reply to a statement made earlier by Syria.

Afternoon session: 3 to 6 p.m.

Round Table 2: Informal Session: Women with disabilities

Round Table 2, chaired by Adam Kosa (Hungary) and Maryanne Diamond (International Disability Association) had five panelists. They were Ms. Yassine Fall (UN Women), Ms. Rachael Kachaje (Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled), Ms. Myra Kovary (Network of Women with Disabilities), Ms. Erzsebet Foldesi (National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Association of Hungary), and Mr. Carlos Rios (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

Mr. Kosa remarked that women with disabilities lack access to essential services that are critical to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Mr. Kosa provided a number of examples of how women with disabilities face double discrimination.  The Convention sets out to promote gender equality and empowerment of women with disabilities. Mr. Kosa highlighted Hungary’s new law that protects the rights of all persons without discrimination.

Ms. Yassine Fall stated that it is a known matter that women and girls face discrimination on the basis of disability. This is exacerbated by conflict, age, ethnicity, economic status and multiple disabilities.  She highlighted several projects implemented by UN Women promoting the rights of women with disabilities.  Ms. Fall claimed that more needed to be done and women and girls needed to be a part of this conversation. She also called for increased cooperation between the different entities, suggesting that Commission on the Status of Women could invite members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to attend its sessions.

Ms. Rachel Kachaje explained that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities together provide a comprehensive approach to the rights of women with disabilities. In her presentation, Ms. Kachaje highlighted the text from three CEDAW articles: that state parties should take measures to empower full participation of women and access to education, labour and the political process; that violence that is gender-based is a form of discrimination; and that casual and traditional practices discriminate against women.  Ms. Kachaje placed a particular emphasis on women’s empowerment.

Ms. Erzsebet Foldesi noted that CEDAW is already three decades old and Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) is two decades old, yet neither has led to significant advances in the promotion and protection of girls with disabilities. There are other human rights mechanisms that are also highly relevant for women with disabilities, such as the Universal Peer Review, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee Against Torture. Citing examples from Hungary, Ms Foldesi stressed the need for women with disabilities and their organizations to engage these other instruments when advocating for their rights.

Mr. Carlos Rios highlighted how violence against women and children usually has multiple layers and is difficult to pinpoint or categorize. Mr. Rios highlighted the importance of article 19 of the CRPD on living independently and being included in the community and that many countries have not made significant progress in implementing this article, especially for women and girls. Finally, Mr. Rios urged states to put in place mechanisms that investigate and prosecute violence against women and provide adequate training for hospital and caretaking personnel in hospitals and institutions.   

Ms. Myra Kovary discussed violence against disabled women. Violence is in itself a major cause of disabilities, causing mobility disabilities, blindness, deafness and other forms of disabilities. Violence happens more often to women and it is more likely to happen to persons with disabilities than to persons without disabilities. She highlighted how some States engage in violence against women with disabilities in cases of forced institutionalization or forced psychiatric treatment. Although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an extremely important instrument, she stressed the importance of the advocacy role of disabled women themselves in pushing for its implementation and that society needed to support them and their organizations. She further stressed the role of women with disabilities in shaping legislation, arguing that a country has most to learn from those who have suffered the most.

The chair opened the floor to questions.  Representatives from Brazil, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Israel, Nigeria, Sudan, and civil society posed comments and questions pertaining to the empowerment of young women with disabilities, reproductive rights, proportional representation of women with disabilities in UN committees and programs, the mainstreaming of women-with-disability issues in other women’s programs, and including the perspective of gender in all programs.

Official statements will be available on PaperSmart and the archive of the webcast will be available on the Enable website, shortly. The complete unedited (CART) transcript of the day will also be posted.



TODAY’S SUMMARY: Wednesday, 12 September
Morning session (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Chairperson H.E. Ambassador Marten Grunditz (Sweden) opened the session, highlighting the fact that 119 countries are signatories to the Convention, with 16 additional signatories and 9 ratifications since the last Conference in 2011. He then introduced the other speakers:, H.E. Lenín Moreno Garcés, Vice-President of Ecuador, Mr Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Craig Mokhaiber Chief Mr. Craig Mokhiber, Chief, Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch, OHCHR and Mr Yannis Vardakastanis, Chair of the International Disability Alliance .

Mr Wu celebrated the accomplishments of persons with disabilities, their determination and resolve. He highlighted the role of technology on accessibility and praised the choice of theme for this session on women and children for this conference, stating that investment today in children with disabilities promotes progress for whole societies. The Mr. Wu also remarked on the inclusion of issues for persons with disabilities in other forums such as the Rio+20 Summit and stressed the importance of the Conference as a unique forum to share ideas and as an input into the post-2015 development agenda.

Vice-President of Ecuador, Mr. Lenin Moreno spoke about his personal commitment to persons with disabilities as a result of his own physical challenges.  He highlighted initiatives for housing and employment in even the most remote areas of the countries.  Mr. Moreno spoke of collaboration between the Government, civil society, foundations, NGOs and the private sector, where there is a mandate that 4% of staff must include persons with disabilities.  Mr. Moreno stated that Ecuador was working hard to import or manufacture assistive devices to help those with disabilities actively participate in life and provide assistance to caretakers.  Finally, Mr. Moreno emphasized that solidarity is not charity and that in a world of diversity, all persons regardless of their physical condition, should be celebrated and acknowledged.

Mr. Mokhaiber noted that persons with disabilities are too often “invisible” and that the Convention was established to address this. The Convention encourages a paradigm shift from a medical and charitable view of disability to one that espouses dignity and equality, celebrating human diversity.  He also recognized the new signatory and ratifying countries to the Convention and stressed the need to focus on implementation. Remarking on the theme of women and children with disabilities, Mr. Mokhaiber highlighted a major literacy and education gap, especially experienced by girls with disabilities. He also raised the issue of older persons with disabilities that is frequently overlooked.

Mr. Vardakastanis described the work of his organization and discussed the theme of the Conference. He identified five crucial themes, namely: Incorporate CRPD principles into UN conferences and meetings as well as its human resources policies, saying the UN should lead by example; Involve persons with disabilities at all stages of a project or legislation, from design to implementation; Provide more time to meet and more logistical support for the CRPD committee; Promote the CRPD so that it does not disappear from the collective consciousness and finally, that the forthcoming High-level meeting on disability be guided and driven by the CRPD.

The Conference adopted the provisional agenda submitted by the Secretary-General (CRPD/CSP/2012/1) and accepted the ten applications for NGO accreditation. During this session, the following candidates were elected as members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to replace those members who terms will expire on 31 December 2012: Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes (Chile), Ms. Ana Pelaez Narvaez (Spain), Ms. Diane Mulligan (United Kingdom), Ms. Safak Pavey (Turkey), Mr. Monthian Buntan (Thailand), Mr. László Gábor Lovászy (Hungary), Ms. Silvia Judith Quan Chang (Guatemala). A second round was conducted during the afternoon session, to elect the final two members.

While awaiting the results of the elections, the Chairperson opened the general debate where representatives of Burkina Faso, Mauritius, South Africa, Thailand, Egypt, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Austria, Jamaica, El Salvador and Jordan all highlighted the efforts made by their Governments to implement the Convention and providing specific examples of how the Convention has impacted their national policies and programmes. They all emphasized the importance of the theme, stressing the double, if not multiple, discrimination experienced by women with disabilities.

The results of the second round of Committee elections were announced by the Chair, as follows:  Mr. Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda) and Mr. Mohammed Al-Tarawneh (Jordan) were elected as the final 2 members of the CRPD committee with terms beginning in January of 2013.  

Afternoon session (3 to 6 p.m.)

The general debate continued with delegates from Costa Rica, Germany, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Canada all highlighting the efforts made by their governments to implement the Convention and providing specific examples of how the Convention has affected their policies and programmes.

Round Table 1: Accessibility and Technology

The discussion was chaired by Sirithon Wairatpanij (Thailand). Speakers included: Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura (DAISY International), Ms. Frances West (IBM), Ms. InmaculadaPlacencia-Porrero (European Commission) and Mr. Sean Cruse (United Nations Global Compact).

Mr. Kawamura, made two presentations that illustrated DAISY (Digital Accessible Information Systems) technologies (e.g. enlarging font size, adjusting reading speed, highlighting the text as the screen reader reads, easy to understand text). DAISY was described as useful in the context of education; synchronized multimedia components as useful in assisting all types of learners. DAISY can also be used for disaster risk reduction for people who cannot read printed materials or when materials are written in a foreign language.

Ms. West spoke about the topic of accessibility and technology from a market perspective, where ageing societies as well as persons with disabilities can be seen as emerging markets. Creating accessible solutions is thus not only good for persons with disabilities, but is good for business as well, as the market for accessible goods is expanded. Ms West said that at IBM there is a need for assistive technologies for both its customer base and its workforce. Accessible workforce collaboration applications have been created by IBM that can be used by people with all types of disabilities.

Ms. Placencia-Porrero began by describing the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the CRPD (the EU and its member states share responsibilities for implementation of the CRPD). Currently, 18 legal acts illustrate EU competencies regarding accessibility/rights of persons with disabilities. A number of recent developments were highlighted by Ms. Placencia-Porrero, including the “EC Work Programme 2012” that is aimed at improving the accessibility of goods and services within the EU. However a lack of data is a long-standing obstacle to understanding what is needed to improve accessibility.

Mr. Cruse provided an overview of the Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative within the UN that has elaborated ten principles (human rights principles, labour standards principles, etc.) that businesses commit to. The Global Compact conducted a recent study that examined the work that its business partners had done relating to persons with disabilities. Mr Cruse stated that businesses could benefit greatly from hiring and retaining persons with disabilities, and that this should be promoted. He further stated that companies should also be encouraged to engage in private-public practices and the Global Compact website (unglobalcompact.org) serves as a resource for companies to engage in such activities. Mr Cruse also emphasized the role that Governments play in creating an enabling environment that facilitates such positive actions by businesses.

Representatives from Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, El Salvador, Egypt, and Tanzania all spoke about the lack of financial resources as barriers preventing Governments from implementation of accessible technologies for persons with disabilities between states. Representatives from Canada, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, and New Zealand all highlighted their implementation of accessible technologies that have benefited the lives of persons with disabilities. The representative from Thailand stated that accessibility should be a theme in all UN programmes, not just the CRPD.

In response to comments and questions, Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura emphasized that many types of DAISY software are available free of charge and are open source. The company keeps an open standard with regard to dissemination of its software. The current version of DAISY is compatible with e-pub format and has the capacity to synchronize motion picture to text (in response to question of accessibility). Ms. Placencia-Porrero emphasized that there are a many assistive resources available at little or no cost. She stressed the importance of setting clear accessibility rules, establishing monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for accessibility standards. Ms. West noted that the costs of information and communication technology has dropped dramatically in recent years and with a growing number of companies now willing to build accessible technologies into mainstream products, costs will continue to drop.

Official statements will be available on PaperSmart and the archive of the webcast will be available on the Enable website, shortly. The complete unedited (CART) transcript of the day will also be posted.




Conference: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=46&pid=1595

Side-events: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1601

PaperSmart: http://papersmart.un.org/crpd

Live webcast: http://webtv.un.org/

Live CART feed: http://www.streamtext.net/player?event=COSP




Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SCRPD), Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), 2 UN Plaza, DC2-1306, New York, NY 10017, USA.

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