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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Enable Daily Bulletin from the Conference, 12 September: Opening session, elections, and Roundtable 1

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
12 September: Opening session, elections, and Roundtable 1

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 ( 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.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 12 September

Round Table 2.  Children with Disabilities (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Chair:  Bureau( Jamaica)
-        Ms. Hendrietta- Bogopane-Zulu, Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities of South Africa
-        Mr. Nick Alipui, UNICEF
-        Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children
-        Mr. Jenny Nilsson, World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section
-        Ms. Ximena Rivas, National Service for Disability of Chile

Informal Session: Women with Disabilities (3 to 6 p.m.)

Co-chairs: (Hungary and IDA)
-        Ms. Yassine Fall, UN Women
-        Ms. Rachel Kachaje, Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)
-        Ms. Myra Kovary, Network of Women with Disabilities
-        Ms. Erzsebet Foldesi, National Federation of Disabled Persons' Association of Hungary
-        Mr. Carlos Rios, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


o       Access to Justice in the Criminal System for Persons with Disabilities: Implementation and Challenges
o       Involuntary sterilization: developing a WHO statement
o       Making it Work methodology
o       The Accessible City Regulations and Universal Standards Accreditation System
o       World Report on Perceptions of Disability Workshop
o       How can the ICT Industry Contribute to Implementing Article 9 of the CRPD?
o       Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities: Exploring Challenges and Good Practices
o       The right to earn a living: young women with disabilities call for action
o       The multifaceted violence against women with disabilities
o       Political participation, rights and access of persons with disabilities
o       Urgency and hope, Report from Global Leaders in Autism: Research, Education, Treatment and Policy
o       Women with disabilities and employment
o       European Union: The experience of a Regional organization in the UNCRPD
o       Make the Right Real in Korea
o       Engaging Social Media – Leveraging the Power of Disability
o       HIV, Disability and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Challenges and Opportunities
o       Early childhood development and disability
o       Shadow Reporting:  Process, Prospects & Problems
o       Harnessing The Power Of Partnerships with Children and Adolescents with Disabilities: Insights Into Successful Transitions to Adulthood


Live webcast:


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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