By IDA

 - August 19, 2020

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) opened its 23rd session online on Monday, 17th of August 2020, at 14:00 (CET). As previously announced, due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the constructive dialogues originally scheduled for the 23rd session are postponed until further notice. During this virtual session, the Committee will hold closed meetings with relevant stakeholders to discuss several issues concerning persons with disabilities. The Committee will discuss how to strengthen cooperation with United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities, and other competent bodies in order to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Moreover, it will discuss the progress made by the task force established to draft a general comment on article 27 of the Convention, on the right to work and employment, and will continue its discussion on follow-up to the treaty body strengthening process and the 2020 review. The Committee will consider the communications submitted under the Optional Protocol to the Convention and will be provided with an update on the activities related to follow-up to Views.

The opening was headed by the Chair of the CRPD Committee, Mr. Danlami Basharu. Mr. Basharu remarked the repercussions of the pandemic on the work of the Committee and on the lives of persons with disabilities and their families around the world. Furthermore, he highlighted and thanked the participation of his fellow members in several webinars and workshops oriented to include persons with disabilities in the COVID 19 responses carried out online during the last months.

The opening session included the participation of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, the Human Rights Council Task Force on Accessibility, the Committee on Victim Assistance of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Disability Alliance, UNHCR, WIPO, the Centre for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor and the UN Mine Action Service Geneva Office. Find all the Statements here.

Ms. Catalina Devandas, who is concluding her mandate as Special Rapporteur of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year, thanked the Committee for the support of her work during the last six years. Ms. Devandas highlighted how the pandemic is exacerbating existent inequalities and discrimination faced by persons with disabilities, especially those facing intersectional discrimination such as children with disabilities and older persons with disabilities. Find more about the work of the Special Rapporteur here

The International Disability Alliance was represented by the President, Ms. Ana Lucía Arellano. In her speech, Ms. Arellano congratulated the Committee for continuing its work within the limitation caused by the COVID-19 and highlighted the work IDA has been doing during regarding the emergency, including its participation in the High-level Round Table on disability and COVID-19 by the GLAD Network, IDA’s recommendations Toward a Disability-Inclusive COVID19 Response, our partnership with the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor and our series of webinars on CRPD-compliant COVID-19 response and recovery, among others.

A screen grab of Ana Lucía Arellano during her speech at the Opening session of the 23rd CRPD Committee session

Image: A screen grab of Ana Lucía Arellano during her speech at the Opening session of the 23rd CRPD Committee session

She also called for “the prompt implementation of the CRPD articles and the human-rights approach by member states” and encouraged the use of the IASC  Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, urging State parties to “work hand in hand with persons with disabilities and their representative organization as well as with allies from other civil society organizations in the design and implementation of public policies”. See the complete Statement in English and Spanish here. 

Once the 23rd session is concluded on September 4, the Committee will start the work of its 14th pre-sessional working group on Monday, September 7, 2020. The Working Group will adopt the List of Issues for the following countries: Andorra, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Israel, Kazakhstan, Togo, and Zambia; the Working Group will proceed in adopting the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Chile and Qatar. 

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