More Highlights from the
UN Conference of States Parties
September 3, 2010
A Message from the Executive Director
Dear USICD Members,
You will recall from my email to you yesterday that the third Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is being held in New York at United Nations Headquarters this week.  On Thursday, Day Two, the program shifted from the procedural election processes of Day One into more substantive discussion through panels of experts.  National delegates also provided official statements to the Assembly.  Participants again used recess periods between official events to attend various side events.  Informal networking and relationship building among the participants continued with high energy.
Because I am still participating in a full schedule of events in New York, a more detailed report on the substantive areas of discussion from Day Two and today's final session will need to wait until after the COSP closes.  However, I did want to get this short message to you immediately to share my enthusiasm for the significant event that occurred on Day Two: Judy Heumann addressed the Assembly as the official voice of the United States.
David Morrissey
Day 2 - Heumann Addresses the Assembly
The theme of this year's COSP has been "Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through Implementation of the CRPD."  In exploration of this theme, Day Two was structured around three thematic discussions, each led by an expert panel and then followed by opening the floor for statements by national delegations.  The three sessions were:
1.       Inclusion and living in the community (Article 19)
2.       Inclusion and the right to education (Article 24)
3.       Persons with disabilities and situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies (Article 11)
United States Special Advisor on International Disability Rights Judith Heumann addressed the Assembly, providing an official statement on these issues in the U.S. context.  
On living in the community, Special Advisor Heumann described the Obama administration's commitment to ensuring the protection of the rights of individuals with disabilities by implementing the community living initiative of the Olmstead Act as well as the United States' groundbreaking history in the independent living and self-advocacy movements.  On the topic of education, she described federal education laws and the right of people with disabilities to a free and appropriate public education in the most integrated setting appropriate for the student.  On situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, she stated that the United States has a strong commitment to preparing for and responding to these situations to ensure the protection and safety of all people.  This process involves the combined effort of twenty federal agencies working together to ensure that persons with disabilities are incorporated throughout the cycle of preparedness and response. 
Throughout her remarks, Heumann also acknowledged the integral role of state and local governments in supporting the work of the federal government.  Special advisor Heumann stated that the United States takes seriously its international and domestic law obligations to ensure the inclusion and protection of persons with disabilities.
You can click here to read Special Advisor Heumann's remarks on Living in the Community, and here to read her remarks on Inclusion and the Right to Education at the State Department website.
Heumann's address was a significant moment for the United States in our engagement on international disability affairs.  This is also exciting for the USICD community, which has so benefitted from Judy's longstanding support. 
Wrap Up
That's all from the COSP for this week.  I will write again with a more coprehensive account, and more reflections on the experience of the Conference of States Parties, next week.   
All my best,
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