COSP17 Day 1 Round-Up

11 June 2024

Tuesday 11 June 2024 was the first day of the 17th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP17).

The conference was informally kicked off with the Civil Society Forum #CSFCRPD, hosted by the International Disability Alliance.

The #CSFCRPD was a fantastic opportunity for people with disability, their representative organisations and civil society organisations from around the world to gather and discuss how we can improve the implementation of the CRPD in the following three sub-themes of this year’s COSP17:

  1. international cooperation to promote technology innovations for an inclusive future,
  2. people with disability in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, and
  3. promoting the rights of people with disability to decent work and sustainable livelihoods.
Giancarlo is smiling and wearing a navy-blue jacket, Lisa is sitting next to Giancarlo and wearing a black jacket and is also smiling. In the background there are chairs in a conference room.

Representing PWDA this year at COSP17 are Giancarlo de Vera, Senior Manager of Policy, and Lisa Ira, Senior Policy Officer. They spent the day learning from leaders in the international disability rights movement, with #TeamAustralia well represented!

First Peoples Disability Network spoke about the devastating effect of climate change on First Nations people with disability. Women with Disabilities Australia and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations pointed out the crucial need for co-design in disaster preparedness and response measures, and it was an immense privilege to experience Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion’s collection of beautiful artworks that told stories of what inclusion means for First Nations people with disability.

PWDA gave a well-received intervention on modern slavery, with Lisa Ira highlighting the importance of all governments viewing segregated employment and sheltered workshops as potential sites of modern slavery.

Lisa is sitting down and speaking into a microphone delivering her intervention on modern slavery. She is wearing a black jacket and white earrings.

In addition to the Civil Society Forum, we attended two side events: one was on the rights of persons with disabilities and using the Optional Protocol to the CRPD as a tool for strategic litigation. We heard from a range of civil society organisations who conduct strategic litigation on how this has led to legal and structural change. Interestingly, Australia leads the world in using the Optional Protocol – we’re clearly a nation of disability rights advocates!

The other side event we attended celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (otherwise known as the Guatemala Convention). The Guatemala Convention is the first international convention on the rights of people with disabilities and has been ratified by 19 member states in the Americas region.

Iris Gonzales de Valenzuela, Director of the National Secretariat on Disability in Panama, speaking at the side event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

Afterwards, Giancarlo de Vera met with the President of the Latin American Network of NGOs of Persons with Disabilities and Their Families (RIADIS), Juan Angel de Gouveia. It was fascinating comparing how robust Latin American and Australian Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) relationships were with our governments, and how crucial these relationships were to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the CRPD.

Meanwhile, Lisa Ira met up with the European Disability Forum, who are an umbrella organisation for DPOs across Europe. There she discussed modern slavery, restrictive practices, segregation and supported decision-making across the European Union.

[L-R] Giancarlo de Vera, Lisa Ira, Minister Bill Shorten MP and Clare Gibellini at the Australian Ambassador to the UN's Welcome Reception for COSP17

At the end of the day, it was time to head off to a welcome reception hosted by Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations James Larsen.

It was a great opportunity for Australia’s civil society delegation (#TeamAustralia) to meet with officials from the Australian Government, with Minister Bill Shorten, who is leading Australia’s delegation at COSP17, giving a rousing speech on the importance of disability advocacy!

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