March 2015: Our Voice at the UN

Welcome to OUR VOICE AT THE UN, II’s publication series focused on how Inclusion International and our members are making change and building inclusive global efforts for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

OUR VOICE AT THE UN is a quarterly series that provide information on:

  • how we are affecting change at the UN and in global efforts
  • how to get involved in efforts and initiatives that will impact your communities and your country.

. This edition will focus on the 13th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
– including II’s submission to the Committee on Article 24 – and II’s voice at the UN in Geneva and New York. For more information please contact Anna MacQuarrie,

13th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The 13th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened on March 25, 2015. It runs 25 March – 17 April, 2015, at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.

The following will be reviewed at the 13th Session of the Committee:

  • Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Mongolia and Turkmenistan

The Committee will also adopt the List of Issues for the European Union (EU).  The CRPD represents the first Convention in history that has been ratified by a regional body like the European Union. The adoption of the list of issues has significant potential to influence European efforts to implement the CRPD.

In the last week of the session, on 15 April, the committee will host a Day of General Discussion on Education.

II will have a strong presence throughout the committee, in particular at the Day of General Discussion on Education.

OUR VOICE at the 13th Session

II will have significant presence at the 13th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  We are proud to have such strong representation from our network.

Klaus Lachwitz, President of II, will be in Geneva 24 – 27 March, and will take part in the formal opening of the session.

From 1 – 2 April, Maureen Piggot, II council member and President of Inclusion Europe, and Magdi Birtha, Inclusion Europe, will be in Geneva during the adoption of the list of issues and participating in side events focused on the European Union.

During the week of 6 – 10 April, Nagase Osamu, II council member, will be in Geneva to support the Mongolian Parallel. II Director of Human Rights, Policy and Global Initiatives, Anna MacQuarrie will also participate in IDA training for disability organizations.

OUR Voice at the Day of General Discussion on Education, 15 April, 2015

As previously reported, the Committee will hold a Day of General Discussion on Education on 15 April, 2015 in Geneva. The decision comes from the Committee’s review of national reports regarding the implementation of Article 24.  The Committee invited stakeholders make submissions on education.  II sought input from members and hosted 3 webinars to help inform our submission.  II’s submission highlighted three key issues:

  • The right to education means the right to an inclusive education
  • Inclusive Education means more than accommodation
  • Inclusive Education is Better Education For ALL

II’s strongest presence during the 13th session will be for the Day of General Discussion on Education.  II has helped to secure speakers on the programme’s panels to address the unique issues of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in accessing inclusive education.  This perspective will be brought by:

  • Diane Richler, former II President
  • Ellis Jongerius and  Henriëtte Sandvoort, supported by Jose Smits (Europe)
  • Gordon Porter, educator and inclusive education expert
  • Juan Cobeñas, (Argentina)

II will also be represented in side sessions and meetings by Connie-Laurin Bowie, II Executive Director; Maureen Piggot, II Council member and President, Inclusion Europe; and, Trish Grant, Director of Advocacy, IHC New Zealand.

Additionally, II will contribute to an IDA sponsored side-session.

Be Part of the 13th Session

All public sessions of the 13th session – including the DAY OF GENERAL DISCUSSION – will be webcast:

Join II in using social media to share information about the 13th session.  For the Day of General Discussion II will be using: #qualityeducationisinclusive #inclusiveeducationbetterforALL to promote our messages on inclusive education. Help us spread the word on facebook and twitter and watch for live updates from the Day of General Discussion from II.

Quincy Mwiya brings Our Voice to the UN Human Rights Council

UN Flags Photo10 March, 2015, Quincy Mwiya, II council member and self-advocate, participated in the annual Human Rights Council (HRC) debate on the rights of persons with disabilities.  Quincy, with support from Jeleel Odoom, Inclusion Ghana, spoke to the HRC about his personal experiences related to living and being included in the community.  Quincy spoke about good practices in achieving article 19 as including: being able to make choices including voting, getting an enabling environment, getting the right support persons in school and the community and the fact that segregated institutions must stop and promotion of Inclusive settings must begin and continue for those who have started already.

In Quincy’s closing remarks he urged the Human Rights Council to continue to give space every year to issues of disabilities. It is only in this way that countries will embrace and put disabilities on their agenda.

You can watch the panel and see Quincy’s presentation on-line at:

II Contributes to World Down Syndrome Day at the United Nations

FullSizeRenderInes Escallon, II’s coordinator for the Americas, and her son Julian, a self-advocate, were both invited to speak at the recent World Down Syndrome Day conference “My Opportunities, My Choices” – Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families” held at the UN in New York.

II was one of the co-sponsors of the conference. Down Syndrome International Executive Director, Andrew Boys, highlighted to II that Independent but Not Alone, II’s global report on the right to make decisions, was an inspiration in selecting the theme of the conference.

Ines spoke powerfully about II’s global report, Independent but Not Alone.  Her presentation highlighted the challenges families experience in supporting their sons and daughters to be independent and opportunities and strategies for making progress.  Julian spoke passionately about his right to make decisions and about his life in community.  His presentation showed the power of an ordinary life and the support from his family and friends to make it happen.  Ines and Julian’s presentations were live streamed and will be posted soon  at

UN Conference of States Parties and Civil Society Forum

The Eighth Conference of States Parties (COSP) will be held at the UN in New York 9 – 11 June, 2015. We anticipate that the focus on this year’s COSP will be on youth with disabilities. In advance of the COSP, the International Disability Alliance will host its annual civil society forum. As more information and details become available, II will share information with members.  If you are planning on being in NY for the COSP, please let us know!

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