Creating a More Inclusive World
04 October 2016
Nearly 32 years ago, the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) was not even on the agenda of the United Nations, the U.S. had not come close to creating an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Paralympian track stars lacked their aerodynamic limbs.
But as Rehabilitation International (RI Global) gathered for its 15th World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, President Harry S. Fang expressed hope for large-scale change in the coming decades. He had reason. RI Global had published its Charter for the 80s in seven languages to great acclaim; the UN had used it as a blueprint for its World Program of Action for the Decade of Disabled Persons; and countless countries had looked to that framework as the basis for their national programs.
Since then, RI Global has convened eight World Congresses and helped push for the ADA, which just celebrated 25 years, and the CRPD, which just finished 10 years on the UN books. Following the wishes of Fang, which he articulated before the assembly in Lisbon, RI Global has also spent the past few years developing a “more effective structure for the harmonization of international cooperation in our field.” Although, as Fang – one of the most active RI Global presidents – put it, “each organization that is working for international cooperation… has its own reasons for doing so, has its own priorities and has its own method of work,” RI Global has, for 94 years, tried to coordinate those rhymes and reasons and brought the movement forward.
From 21-27 October, RI Global, its partners, affiliates and friends will once again meet in Edinburgh, Scotland for a promising Congress on topics ranging from Return to Work to independent living to international travel for PwDs. With more than 750 influential disability experts already registered from 58 countries, this 23rd Rehabilitation International World Congress is shaping up to be one of the most important events of 2016.
In addition to the panelists and discussion, attendees will hear from such leaders as Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, UK and Princess Anne, Princess Royal who will serve as the Royal Patron of the 23rd RI World Congress.
The facilitators of the 23rd RI World Congress have released the schedule of venues for meetings and the plenary session taking place in Edinburgh and added links to the website for a full view of all the activities. Click here for the full conference programme.
Lots has changed in RI Global’s third generation of existence, as reflected in the Presidential greetings from the Governor of Hong Kong and the Czechsolvak Socialist Republic in the back of the 1984 World Congress program, but even Ronald Reagan, then president of the United States, noted that “the progress we have made is a tribute to the courage and determination of our disabled people.”