Quincy Mwiya Addresses UN Human Rights Council

Inclusion International Council member and self-advocate, Quincy Mwiya, participated in the UN Human Right’s Council annual panel discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities taking place in Geneva. Quincy spoke about living and being included in the community.

Quincy’s participation helped raise awareness about the challenges people with intellectual disabilities and their families face in realizing their right to live and be included in the community and identify community-based solutions.

Report on The Annual Panel Discussion on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On the 10th March 2015, Quincy Mwiya, a Self-Advocate and board member of Inclusion International, and his support person Auberon Jeleel Odoom, participated in the Annual interactive panel discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities held by the Human Rights Council. The focus of the discussion was on Article 19 of the CRPD – Living independently and being included in the community. Excepts of the panel discussion can be found at:

http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/watch/panel-discussion-on-disabilities-20th-meeting-28th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4104016673001

During the Panel, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented its Report on the right of persons with disabilities to living independently and being included in the community, which provided experiences, lessons learned and good practices on the implementation of Article 19 of the CRPD. The report is available in easy read formats and in all six UN languages:  Arabian, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The Panel was moderated by the Vice-President of the Human Rights Council and Ambassador of Paraguay, Mr. Juan Esteban Aguirre; with opening statement from Ms. Jane Connors, from OHCHR. Other Panelists included:

  • Hyung Shik Kim, member of the CRPD Committee (Republic of Korea)
  • Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities (Costa Rica)
  • Alina Grigoras, National Human Rights Officer, OHCHR (Republic of Moldova)
  • Gunta Anca, Vice-President of the European Disability Forum (Latvia) and

Quincy’s Role on the Panel was to share the intellectual disabilities perspective of living independently and being included in the community, based on his own personal experiences, and also highlight the good practices as well as make some recommendations to member countries and the Human Rights Council for considerations. 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 spaceevery year to issues of disabilities. It is only through this way that countries will embrace and put disabilities on their agenda.

After the session, the Human Rights Council negotiated a resolution on the right of persons with disabilities to living independently and being included in the community.

Side Event

The Office of the High Commissioner for the Human Rights and IDA co-hosted, on the same 10th March 2015 before the panel discussion, from 1:00pm – 1.45pm, Geneva time, a Fireside chat on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, facilitated by the International Development Law Organization. The objective was to produce a thematic debate on the connection between the rights of persons with disabilities, rule of law and Post-2015 Development Agenda, with a review of advances, challenges and opportunities in 2015. Mr. Kerry Brinkert, from the International Support Unit of the Mine Ban Treaty, was the moderator.

Speakers were the same as the ones for the Annual Panel on the rights of persons with disabilities. The only addition was Mr. Firoz Ali Alizada, International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munitions Coalition from Afghanistan. We also had a chance to meet with other participants like Lisa MACNAB, Down Syndrome International, who was very happy that persons with intellectual disabilities was featured strongly this time around.

General Comments on the Annual Debate and Side Event

Participants exchanged knowledge on the ways in which their various countries and communities are promoting Article 19 of the CRPD. This afforded us a lot of learning opportunity. We also learnt about what others are doing on the rights of persons with disabilities to converge with the current debate on the rule of Law and the Sustainable Development Objectives. The side event set the basis for continuous discussion and communication on future collaboration in the different Geneva-Based Human Rights Treaty Bodies.

We also had the opportunity to see lobbying and advocacy in action both at informal meetings with representatives of New Zealand, Ethiopia, and Australia at break times and at formal meetings during the main panel meeting.

Follow Up

It will be great to start a conversation with the new UN Special Rapporteur on Disabilities to look into challenging areas for persons with intellectual disabilities in member countries so she can report back.

Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico and Romania also presented a new mainstream initiative during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council concerning the Right to Work.

They presented a resolution linked to that initiative, which was mainly aimed at informing the human rights constituency about the issue and open opportunities for a human rights-based contribution to the global discussions concerning decent work agenda and full and productive employment, especially considering the current discussions post-2015 development agenda. Inclusion International should follow up and see the content of the resolution to ensure that it is inclusive of persons with intellectual disabilities.

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