Highlights from the
UN Conference of States Parties
September 1, 2010
A Message from the Executive Director
Dear USICD Members,
This week at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the 3rd Conference of States Parties to the CRPD is being held, bringing together governments and civil socity, people with disabilities and their allies, in an annual international dialogue.  I am honored to attend this meeting, with credentialing made possible by USICD's status as the U.S. member organization in Rehabilitation International.  
As a benefit to USICD members, I am going to attempt to dispatch to you a few updates as the events unfold this week.  The schedule is jam packed here, but I want you to be engaged and connected to this global disability convening through USICD, and I hope you will find this information interesting and beneficial.  
It is your investment in USICD that makes this work possible.  I am always available to you personally to provide more information on this important UN process and other international CRPD efforts.
David Morrissey
Pre-COSP Event with IDA - August 31
The International Disability Alliance (IDA) is a network of global and regional organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) promoting the effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  IDA currently comprises nine global and four regional DPOs, including Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) and Rehabilitation International (RI), both of which count USICD as their United States affiliate.  The IDA Chair rotates annually; the current IDA Chair is Diane Richler, President of Inclusion International.
On Tuesday, IDA held a half-day convening of nongovernmental organizations committed to the implementation of the CRPD.  The purpose of the meeting was to allow for an exchange of information about these organizations' activities supporting CRPD implementation, opportunities for international cooperation, and the promotion of DPOs around the world. 
A breakout session allowed small groups to explore how to ensure DPO leadership in activities related to the CRPD and challenges to cooperation.  Issues raised included the need for DPO capacity building, both monetarily and in legal expertise, bridging single-impairment focused groups under cross-disability umbrella organizations, finding shared goals with diverse constituencies who do not always agree, managing collaborative projects, advocating to NGOs for inclusive programs and the advancement of individuals with disabilities to leadership positions, and raising awareness of disability at all levels of society.
COSP Day One - September 1
The CRPD calls for a regular meeting of States Parties to the treaty.  This Conference of States Parties (COSP) is held annually at the United Nations for the international community to consider and explore issues related to the implementation of the CRPD.  Official participation in the COSP, including making nominations and voting in the election of the Committee, is conducted by delegations from nations that have ratified the CRPD.  However, representatives of other nations, as well as nongovernmental organizations, may attend and observe the proceedings, participate in informal networking and side events during the conference, and engage with delegates to advocate and advance awareness of particular issues.  This is the 3rd COSP for the CRPD.
Day One proceedings were chaired by the Ambassador of Mexico, Claude Heller.  Opening remarks were also provided by Mr. Sha Zhukang, Under Secretary General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA, in which the CRPD Secretariate is placed within the UN system), Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (via video message), Mr. Ron MacCallum, Chair of Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Ms. Diane Richler, IDA Chair, representing civil society organizations.
Election of the CRPD Committee members
A key activity of the States Parties at the COSP is the election of members to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  This year included not only an election to fill six of twelve existing seats on the committee, but also to fill six seats newly opened upon the 80th ratification to the CRPD, bringing the committee's structure to its maximum of 18 seats.  The election process is complex, requiring absolute majority support for a candidate to be elected.  As a result, multiple rounds of voting took place today to complete the process, and Day One's official proceedings were dominated by the election.
Twenty-three nations that have ratified the CRPD submitted nominations for the ballot in this election to fill twelve seats.  As a reminder to USICD's members in the United States, only nations that have ratified the treaty may nominate individuals to sit on this important body.  It was interesting to see how nations that have submitted nominations, as well as nongovernmental advocates, campaign for their nominees, even distributing handouts in the halls with biographical sketches about their nominees.  In the end, the successful 12 candidates were, order of election:
Mr. Ronald Clive McCallum of Australia
Ms. Edah Wangechi Maina of Kenya
Ms. Theresia Degener of Germany
Mr. Hyung Shik Kim of Korea
Mr. Carlos Rios Espinosa of Mexico
Mr. Lofti Ben Lallahom of Tunisia
Mr. Gabor Gombos of Hungary
Mr. Damjan Tatic of Serbia             
Mr. Stig Langvad of Denmark
Ms. Silvia Judith Quan Chang of Guatemala
Ms. Fatiha Hadj Salah of Algeria
Mr. Germān Xavier Torres Correa of Ecuador
USICD ocngratulates these accomplished global leaders! We particularly note that one of these leaders, Ms. Silvia Judith Quan Chang of Guatemala, also sits on the International Advisory Board for the Global Disability Rights Library project that USICD is implementing in coordination with the University of Iowa's WiderNet Project.
Day One Side Events
Side events at the COSP provide the opportunity for any nation or accredited civil society organization to offer programs open to any attendee while the official proceedings of the COSP are on recess, such as during the mid-day lunch break.  A number of USICD members and other colleagues contributed to side events on Day One, including:
  • Handiapped International presenting on the "Making It Work" CRPD Implementation Intiative
  • Blue Law International hosting a panel discussion on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that included speakers from DPI, RI and the World Bank, as well as Janet Lord and Michael Stein 
  • Human Rights Watch providing case studies on the rights of women with disabilities in Uganda, Argentina and India
  • World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry hosting a film screening and discussion exploring the trauma-informed approach to care in mental health and criminal justice settings 
Wrap Up
I hope this mailing has been informative for you.  I will work to get another update to you from the COSP within a few days. 
All my best,
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