Big turn-out to advance rights of persons with disabilities

The Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was held on 12-14 September at UN Headquarters in New York

More than 750 participants attended the opening of the Conference on 12 September, which featured remarks by H.E Ambassador Marten Grunditz (Sweden), President of the Conference, Mr. Wu Hongbo, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and H.E Moreno Lenin, Vice President of Ecuador, as well as by representatives from OHCHR and civil society organizations.

Under the theme: “Making the CRPD count for Children and Women” , the three-day Conference featured a series of activities, including the election of nine members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, two roundtable sessions, one informal panel discussion, one interactive dialogue with the UN system and a general debate segment. 

Two roundtable and one informal panel discussions were organized around three topics – “technology and accessibility”, “children with disabilities”, and “women with disabilities”. Four background papers were developed by DESA to facilitate interactive discussions among the panelists and the participants with a view to promote disability-inclusive development and explore how to increase the efforts toward inclusive and sustainable development for equitable and just society, through implementation of the Convention, giving special attention to the perspectives of gender and women, as well as children. Another focus of these discussions was around how to tap the potential of technologies to further ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development.

The general debate had around 50 States inscribed for the speakers’ list, including many at ministerial levels. Due to time constraints, 17 requests could not be accommodated. Although it is a conference of States Parties, signatories and other observers actively participate in all aspects of the agenda of this very unique global forum. The Conference helps realize the goal of the United Nations’ work in the field of disability that is: the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development, as both agents and beneficiaries.

During the Conference, 34 side-events were organized by Governments, UN system organizations, academic institutions, international and bi-lateral development agencies, and national human rights institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities.

A number of features, such as official documentation in Braille, an accessible UN Enable website, a PaperSmart portal for documents and statements, real time CART transcription (closed captioning), sign language interpretation and webcasting, were included at the Conference, with a view to promoting and facilitating the broadest participation possible. The Enable Daily Bulletin from the Conference was distributed to over 9000 subscribers. Highlights and news about the Conference was also broadcast through social networking media including Facebook and Twitter, via live information from the Conference floor.

The Conference of State Parties has now become one of the largest and key global forums, where stakeholders gather together to discuss experiences and innovative ideas to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and disability-inclusive policies and programmes towards building a just, equitable and inclusive society for all. 

DESA, as the Secretariat for the Conference of States Parties, supported all aspects of the work of the Conference, in collaboration with OLA and OHCHR.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006. The Convention has received strong support from Member States, 153 of which have ratified or acceded to it to date. Many States are now focusing on implementation, and advances are being made in harmonizing national legislation, policies and practices with the Convention.

At the same time, it has been increasingly recognized that disability has not been adequately included in development efforts. To address this situation, the General Assembly has decided to convene a High-level Meeting on Disability and Development on 23 September 2013 so that the international community can take a concerted action toward a disability-inclusive post-2015 development framework. 

For more information: UN Enable