Opening 28th session of the CRPD Committee - March 6th 2023
Statement by Klaus Lachwitz, International Disability Alliance

"Distinguished members of the CRPD Committee,

Good Morning! My name is Klaus Lachwitz. I am from Germany and I am pleased to deliver this statement as a Member of the Board of the International Disability Alliance (IDA). I serve in the IDA Board since 2008. First in my capacity as president of Inclusion International and now as representative of the European Disability Forum (EDF).
Let me begin with the sad news that Judith Heumann passed away two days ago. Judith was not only a very well known American Disability Rights activist, but she was also recognized internationally by all of us as a great leader in the disability community. We thank her for her significant contributions to the implementation of the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Now I want to congratulate the members just elected to the Bureau of the CRPD Committee, and to applaud the efforts of the CRPD Committee and its Secretariat for your work in advance of this 28th session. We are grateful for your intensive engagement in responding to the urgent needs of persons with disabilities in all their diversity around the world. It is vital work, and IDA is proud to support and promote your activities.

Before moving into substantive points, I am happy to mention here our invitation to today’s Reception at 6 pm next to this Conference room in Café Serpentine. In addition, IDA would like to mention that its so – called “Training of Trainers” is taking place in Geneva, during the CRPD Committee session, bringing more than 30 activists together from all regions of the world, helping to reinforce the strength of the global disability movement and their connection to the important work here in Geneva. We encourage you to connect with the attendees throughout the session.

IDA has joined and promoted the initiative by the Committee to hold a Day of General Discussion on Article 11 of the CRPD consisting of three online regional consultations. It is a huge task to discuss and describe the obligations of States Parties to protect persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies. The challenges caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, by armed conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and by natural disasters like forest fires and immense floodings all over the world have shown how vulnerable persons with disabilities are and that many of them were left behind.

To the extent possible IDA recommends a slower pace and a careful planning, given the great importance and complexities involved in a general comment that must cover the diverse situations of risk mentioned in Article 11 of the CRPD.

We look forward in the future sessions to events with a global perspective bringing together CRPD Committee members, States, UN – Agencies, OPDs, Civil Society and other stakeholders, in a public forum for the awareness and information of organisations of persons with disabilities and others following online.

Since the last session, IDA continued its work to promote CRPD standards. In particular, IDA launched a promotional video on the CRPD Committee’s “Guidelines on De-institutionalization, including in emergencies” encouraging relevant stakeholders to consult and utilize them.

IDA continues to engage with other UN Treaty Bodies with a view to ensuring harmonization with CRPD standards. As well as supporting OPD participation in State reviews, IDA has engaged in general comments processes by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in particular with regard to the environment and climate change, the CEDAW Committee by claiming equal and inclusive representation in decision making and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with regard to sustainable development.

As the discussions towards the implementation of the predictable schedule of reviews unfold this year, IDA highlights the need for the CRPD Committee to keep focus on country specific work and to resume the important practice of “Follow up to Concluding Observations”.

IDA enthusiastically welcomes new agendas opening up to organizations of persons with disabilities, with the path charted for us by the CRPD. IDA has been actively engaged promoting the participation of persons with disabilities at the Inclusive Education Conference in February by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global, billion-dollar fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. IDA has also joined the Global Care Alliance to bring in the perspective of persons with disabilities and the CRPD in connection with the care economy and agenda, seeking to input and secure relevant CRPD standards, in particular with regard to Article 19 and Art. 23 section 5 CRPD dealing with alternative care. IDA acknowledges the challenges inherent in these discussions, but also the need for cross-movement advocacy and solidarity to push for systemic changes in our societies, to ensure they do so with persons with disabilities, OPDs and the CRPD as integral parts of the transformation of service delivery.

As different parts of the international human rights framework advance in certain areas, we welcome this Committee’s further reflections on Article 18 (Migration), Article 28 (Adequate standard of living including social protection), Art. 10 (Right to life including euthanasia legislation) and Art. 25 (Right to health including an approach to the much-needed paradigm shift in mental health).

At this session, and in the years ahead, there is an amazing and considerable amount of important work to be done. Once more we express our appreciation and our passionate commitment to continuously support the vital work of the CRPD Committee.

I wish you a very fruitful 28th session and I thank you for your attention!"