RI Global: Office of Communications
Contact: Adrian Brune, +1 347-759-9501
Increasingly, disability issues — the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities — are being recognized and integrated into socioeconomic development and humanitarian responses, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement kicking off the ninth session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in New York today.
Listing a number of achievements on the UN disability agenda, including the Sendai Framework at the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the appointment of a Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility Issues and even efforts to make the Secretariat building more accessible, Ban praised CRPD on its 10th anniversary, calling it “one of the most widely ratified international treaties… that has been matched with a flood of action for realizing the rights of persons with disabilities across the globe.”
The UN was abuzz with people of all nationalities, cultures and abilities, testifying before the General Assembly and bringing attention to ancillary issues in conference rooms around the New York campus. RI Global had six delegates at the COSP, including President Jan Monsbakken, Treasurer Susan Parker, Secretary-General Venus Ilagan, RI National Secretary Khaled El Mohtar, Deputy VP of North America Mathieu Simard and Chair of the Commission on Work Madan M. Kundu.
“It’s been a memorable COSP,” Monsbakken said. “Although we still have some ratification to get done, we also need to celebrate our achievements — 167 signatories is excellent progress.”
While many gathered in the General-Assembly Hall during the morning, RI Secretary-General Venus Ilagan moderated a panel of experts discussing the Gate Initiative to improve access to assistive technology. Among other things, they considered the recent WHO Priority Assistive Products List, which came out last month at the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, attended by Monsbakken.
Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life, but only one in 10 people in need have access to assistive technology due to high costs and a lack of awareness, availability, trained personnel, policy, and financing. Even in high-income countries, assistive products are often rationed or not included within health and welfare schemes, leading to high out-of-pocket payments by users and their families.
“We need to be working with insurance providers, not just in disability, with everyone in general. If we don’t get the rates down, the assistive technology piece won’t matter because we can’t pay for it,” said Connie Lauren-Bowie, the Executive Director of Inclusion International.
Chapal Khasnabis a technical officer of the WHO who founded Mobility India — a resource centre on disability and rehabilitation for developing countries — said a list of WHO-approved technologies was just the beginning. Technical specifications are the essential next step; we’re bringing the professionals, technical experts and users on the same platform to make this happen,” Khasnabis said.
The day ended with RI Global President Jan Monsbakken presenting H.E. Ambassador Oh Joon, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, with a Presidential Plaque in appreciation of Oh’s exemplary dedication to disability and rehabilitation. Before Oh presented the program of the evening “Beautiful Concert: Celebration of CRPD 10”, he thanked RI Global for their 95 years of working with the United Nations to constantly put disability rights on docket of nations around the world.
“This evening we’re gathered not for this awarding of me, but for a concert of people with disabilities performing — truly a testament that says whatever our persons without disabilities can do, our persons with disabilities can do.”
Stay tuned to RI Global for Day Three of the COSP and a slideshow of the events that transpired throughout the week.
RI Global: Founded in 1922, Rehabilitation International (RI Global) is a worldwide network promoting the rights and inclusions of persons with disabilities (PwDs) through advocacy, habilitation and rehabilitation to achieve an inclusive world in which all people can enjoy full human rights.
Join us at the 2016 RI Global World Congress: riworldcongress.com