(Picture: The Special Rapportuer, Shuaib Chalklen, in front of the United Nations.)
attended the Civil Society Forum, the 5th Conference of State Parties (COSP5) of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities, Partners’ Forum by UNICEF. He spoke, chaired and concluded various sessions during the aforementioned events. Moreover, he had 16 personal meetings with different disability stakeholders including UN agencies’ representatives, the African Union Ambassador to the United Nation, bi-lateral donors, and global and local organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). I had this great opportunity to experience and observe these events and meetings as the Rapportuer’s assistant. The schedule was really hectic starting from early morning with breakfast meetings till late at night with dinner meetings. But it was extremely empowering experience for me, or anybody there.
was to find ways together and individually in increasing visibility of disability in the high level meeting on disability in September 2013 among the member states of the United Nations, thereby also that in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The mistake of MDGs not including disability rights should not be repeated, which was the consensus for the post-2015 agenda. The disability stakeholders will ensure that their united voice will be heard. The Rapporteur was one of them trying to highlight the importance of these forthcoming events.
had another important aim for this trip: to get consensus on the establishment of African Disability Forum under the African Union Disability Architecture. The Forum will disseminate information to primarily African DPOs but also to the government officials. Information available at an international level had many times failed to reach at African disability stakeholders including the Rapporteur himself. Such information dissemination initiated by the Forum is expected to increase capacity of disability stakeholders. Everybody he talked on this Forum was in the same opinion that lack of information is one of the major challenges in Africa.
this is the initiative of the Rapporteur, many stakeholders would like to give their inputs and ideas for this Forum, which has complicated the establishment process. This is unavoidable to go through, as opinions of relevant stakeholders have to be exhausted for establishing an activity at the African Continental level as this one. However, such discussions could also be driven by own interests of individuals or interests of different agencies that they represent for. Disability is diverse, development partners have complicated relationships among themselves, and personal feelings are also involved when it comes to issues around disability. The Rapporteur has not been successful in raising fund for this Forum activity yet. But it could become even more complicated when money is found, for doing a simple activity for increasing capacity of disability stakeholders in Africa. The meetings observation has taught me some challenges of making consensus in this field.
I was totally overwhelmed
by the scale of the global disability movement with powerful advocators including the Rapporteur himself, the vice-president of Ecuador in his wheelchair, and many, many others. As disability is too often considered as a minor subject in reality, I was greatly encouraged as a disability researcher to have witnessed this movement with my eyes in front of me. I hope many more younger disability stakeholders will have chances to attend such meetings as these ones. I am full of energy to move forward with my disability research works thanks to this trip!