On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2017, the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Korea, Bulgaria, Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Finland, Argentine Republic and Israel joined forces with a number of UN agencies, civil society organizations and the International Disability Alliance, to host a panel discussion and art exhibition at the Palais des Nations.
Mr Idriss Maiga, International Disability Alliance Board Member representing the African Disability Forum, Niger, was a speaker during the first panel of the day, which focused on ‘Engaging Broader Society’.
Mr Idriss Maiga highlighted that “After the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – CRPD in 2006 by the UN General Assembly, organisations advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities at National level started gaining visibility at the international level (…). Our greatest achievement was captured in article 4, paragraph 3, which establishes the concrete obligation of States Parties to conduct close consultation with, and actively engage, organizations representing persons with disabilities, including women and children with disabilities, in decision making processes relating to all matters relevant to them.”
Mr Idriss Maiga, also listed some concrete examples of how persons with disabilities have been engaging in broader society: “The International Disability Alliance, constituted at the end of this negotiation process, which currently comprises 8 international and 6 regional umbrella organizations of persons with disabilities, is a legitimate civil society organization playing a key role of intermediary between DPOs and the UN system. Persons with disabilities are legitimate experts on their rights, and this has been demonstrated by the CRPD Committee members, whose majority of past and present members are persons with disabilities with a background in grassroots organizations; The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which with its goals, targets and indicators, has explicit references to persons with disabilities, unlike its previous MDGs.”
He also said: “the disability rights movement at global level is growing in size and strength. However, we feel there is a strong need to engage in the mainstream human rights movements, such as the women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental related rights, civil rights, just to name some. (…) Engaging in a broader society, we also need to learn to hear the voices of others. If we do so, we can really say that: ‘today is a day for all’”.
After the panel discussions, the event continued with the opening of an exhibition.
“Today, I discussed on how we should work in the local level because we need to take into account that there is a remaining gap between the local and global levels. Let’s not forget that the work at the international level has to support in solving the issues that are encountered in the local level.” Mr Maiga said, and added: “in this week, I am going to participate to a few more events in the framework of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We prepared some activities that are all aimed to reinforce the Rights of Persons with Disabilities related to the CRPD and SDGs’ implementation. This is a day, a week, where we try to get more visibility on us, to spread important messages regarding our rights. It is critical to remind what we have done in the past years, yet, much need to be done.”
Mr Maiga’s presence in Geneva is part of a broader mission, to participate in a technical workshop on reporting SDG’s implementation in line with the CRPD. Several African countries will be reviewed by the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), and the African Disability Forum (ADF) counts to replicate the methodology of this technical workshop with DPOs and partners in his region.