- April 16, 2013

Geneva, 15 April 2013 – Today the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened its 9th session (15-19 April 2013) in which it will review Paraguay, adopt List of Issues on Australia, Austria and El Salvador and hold a half day of general discussion on women and girls with disabilities.

The opening of the 9th session took place this morning in a public session from 10am to 1pm. Five new members (Martin Babu Mwesigwa, Monthian Buntan, Laszlo Lovaszy, Diane Mulligan and Safak Pavey) pronounced their solemn declaration to formally join the Committee. Ron McCallum stepped down from his position as Chair and Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes was elected by an overwhelming majority as the new Chair. She is the first woman Chair of the Committee. Ron McCallum, Theresia Degener and Carlos Rios Espinosa were elected as new Vice Chairs and new Committee member Martin Babu Mwesigwa was elected as new Rapporteur of the Committee by acclamation.

The OHCHR and several UN agencies provided information on their work to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and statements were also made by civil society organisations including the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

In his statement, Yannis Vardakastanis, the Chair of IDA, called on the CRPD Committee to develop a paper on its relationship with NGOs, which highlights how civil society can input into the work of the Committee, and in particular which recognises the special role of DPOs in accordance with Article 4(3) of the CRPD. Further, Mr Vardakastanis highlighted IDA’s continuing work to mainstream CRPD standards across the treaty bodies including before the Human Rights Committee with respect to its General Comment no 25 on the right to political participation, which is not in full compliance with the CRPD. Mr Vardakastanis was able to inform the CRPD Committee of the clarified position adopted a few weeks ago by the Human Rights Committee which brings its interpretation of the right to political participation of persons with disabilities closer to CRPD standards. He also announced to the Committee that IDA launched the first issue of its Human Rights Publication Series, whose first issue is dedicated to the right to vote and to stand for election, which is a new annual journal dedicated to gathering and sharing practices and experiences related to CRPD implementation with a focus on positive examples of compliance.

To conclude, Mr Vardakastanis welcomed the Committee´s initiative to hold a half day of general discussion on women and girls with disabilities on Wednesday 17 April 2013, during which IDA and DRAF will hold a side event on indigenous women and girls with disabilities with the objective of exploring the patterns of intersectional and multiple discrimination which make this group particularly vulnerable to violence and rights violations.

The public opening was webcast live, including the provision of international sign interpretation, and will be archived on the treaty body webcast website.

Contact: Victoria Lee at vlee [at]
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