Panel of Experts Meeting
During the third day of the 4th Conference of States Parties, President Mr Colin Allen and Honorary President Mr Markku Jokinen participated in the very first meeting of the Panel of the Experts to the Special Rapporteur on Disability. At this meeting the Special Rapporteur Mr Shuaib Chalklen reported on his recent and current activities which were commented by the members of the Panel. In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) World Report on Disability was presented by Ms Alana Officer generating many different comments and viewpoints. Another important topic discussed at this meeting was the High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) organised at the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly in 2012. The meeting is closely linked to developing the Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015 and the Panel discussed long what kind of contributions the Special Rapporteur and civil society should make for it. The civil society actors must engage themselves as effectively as possible in this meeting in order to generate an outcome document that will include disability issues. These matters were also included in discussion on the priorities for the Special Rapporteur`s work plan for next term from 2012 to 2014. Mainstreaming disability in development, humanitarian crises and poverty reduction was seen as an important element of his work plan. Furthermore, close cooperation with the CRPD Committee and Special Rapporteurs of other Treaties are also natural parts of his work.
The way forward for the future collaboration between Special Rapporteur and the Panel of Experts was also discussed and the Special Rapporteur felt the meeting was very useful for his work expressing his will to continue close cooperation with members of the Panel. WFD wishes to continue good cooperation with him in the areas of education and capacity building of organisations of deaf people.
Earlier the same day Mr Allen, Mr Jokinen and a deaf Hungarian Member of Parliament and a member of European Union of the Deaf, Dr Gergely Tapolczai had a rewarding meeting with the deputy permanent representative of Finland to the UN Mr Janne Taalas discussing for instance the possibility to organise a side-event at the 2012 Conference of States Parties (COP) in cooperation with the Finnish and Australian UN Missions. WFD representatives stressed the importance of continued support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland to WFD’s work. Contributing together for the document of the HLMDD of the General Assembly was seen also important.
UNICEF – Flagship Meeting
Both Mr Jokinen and Mr Allen were unable to represent WFD at the UNICEF Flagship Meeting as they were attending the Panel of Experts taking place at the same time. Thus WFD Board member Dr Joseph Murray made a day trip to New York from Washington DC to represent WFD at this two and a half hours session. The meeting discussed the future direction of the UNICEF Flagship but also addressed some participants’ concerns on the inclusive education. WFDYS President Ms Jenny Nilsson attended this meeting also.
International Disability Alliance Meeting
The last part of the WFD week in New York was the two-day meeting of the Governing Body of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) September 10-11. This was the first IDA meeting Mr Allen participated as the WFD President.
Dr Murray and Ms Nilsson also participated as observers on the first day of the meeting. The meeting was very intensive and covered a wide range of different topics with a meeting agenda containing 24 items. Main areas of the agenda were internal issues of IDA, IDA projects, and initiatives and advocacy issues. WFD presented numerous statements, comments and questions by both Mr Jokinen and Mr Allen.
During the first day of the meeting participants discussed for example the following items:
- report on activities January-June 2011,
- accounts 2010 and first semester 2011,
- IDA reserve account, an internship program,
- revised IDA action plan,
- IDA working groups and
- procedure on how to deal with urgent requests for decisions.
In addition, the participants evaluated the meeting of Disabled Person’s Organisations (DPO) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) which was held on September 6th before the COSP and the Panel of Experts meeting. IDA capacity building project, a new global Training of the Trainers and Advisors proposal and CRPD implementation guidelines project generated good and thorough discussions.
Next day the meeting concentrated on advocacy issues and discussed a proposed IDA campaign on the right to vote. The meeting participants received information about new advocacy areas like Social Protection Floor Initiative and OECD Development Assistance Committee. Another important item was about promoting DPO participation in UN work at the national level.
Upcoming advocacy issues covered for example the forthcoming HLMDD on Disability in 2012, the 5th session of the CRPD Committee, the Multi-Donor Trust Fund on Disability and an evaluation of the World Disability Report and its follow-up. The meeting discussed capacity-building of youth with disabilities and the involvement in the Education for All Fast Track Initiative. The participants reflected also on the proposal to increase the participation of national DPOs in the Universal Periodic Review and in UN mainstream human rights treaty bodies.
IDA currently comprises eight global and four regional organisations of persons with disabilities. For further information on IDA, please visit IDA’s website www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/about-us/members/.
The New York week offered WFD many unique and very important opportunities to do advocacy, build new contacts and make new partnerships and collaborate with the representatives of governments and the UN and its agencies, different NGOs, ambassadors and other actors from all over the world. Visibility of sign languages and matters important to deaf people were also very important during the week. WFD wishes to see a growing number of deaf people representing their national governments and relevant organisations in the future UN meetings in both New York and Geneva in order to bring attention to the importance of sign language work in various areas within the framework of UN and UN agencies.