Statement to Conference of States Parties

©Pepo Schuster,

On 14th-16th June 2016, at the United Nations, the 9th Conference of States Parties (COSP) was held on promoting the rights of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities.

Our President, Klaus Lachwitz (pictured) had the opportunity to deliver this statement to the General Debate. View the full Civil Society statement here

Statement of the President of Inclusion International, UN COSP General Debate, 15 June, 2016

“Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and observers. My name is Klaus Lachwitz, I am president of Inclusion International, one of the oldest and biggest global DPOs representing  over 200 federations of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in 115 countries.

We welcome the focus at this year’s COSP on promoting the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and we are very proud and celebrate that Robert Martin, New Zealand, was elected yesterday to become a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Robert is the first self – advocate with learning disabilities in the Committee. It’s a challenge for him and for the Committee as it will be necessary to discuss issues in plain language and to provide UN- and States Parties documents which are often written in a rather sophisticated language by using manifold legal terms in easy to read versions. We are sure that Robert Martin will enrich the discussions in the CRPD Committee by his experience and by his ability to present good and bad examples from all over the world on the living conditions of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.

The CRPD announces an elementary paradigm shift: Disability is no medical deficit any longer, it’s a matter of human rights! Individual autonomy including the freedom to make choices and full and effective participation and inclusion in society are the general principles and guidelines for the implementation of the CRPD by the States Parties. Yet still, there are millions of persons with intellectual disabilities who are deprived of their legal capacity as defined in Article 12 CRPD, their right to inclusive education as described in Article 19, their right to live independently and included in the community as outlined in Article 19 and their right to political participation as guaranteed in Art. 29 CRPD.

What is the reality from a global perspective in comparison with these human rights?

Far more than 90 % of all children with intellectual disabilities don’t receive any kind of school education or are obliged to visit special schools! Many adults with intellectual disabilities still live in big institutions deprived of their right to make choices as the directors of these segregating institutions themselves are very often entitled to execute the legal capacity of the individuals that reside there. Guardianship laws which allow substitute decision – making are still dominating in many parts of the world and many persons with intellectual disabilities are deprived of their right to vote. For instance in my country, Germany, at least 20 000 persons with intellectual disabilities – some experts guess it’s nearly 100 000  – still can’t take part in federal elections.

Human rights as described in the CRPD exist on paper only in many countries. We urge the States Parties concerned to change that!

What we have learned over the years:  Supporting self – advocacy is critical and elementary for realizing the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. We know this must begin at home and it must begin at birth. For persons with intellectual disabilities, their families are the main and often the only source of support throughout their entire lives. They need help, they need services to do this. Further, if their families are not included in planning and outreach measures then there is a huge risk that persons with intellectual disabilities will be left behind!

Let’s summarize:  As long as the basic human rights are not realized by persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, the aims of this year’s Conference if States Parties cannot be achieved.”

You can also view a video