Below is a list of upcoming events at the UN Headquarters in NYC. I will be attending many of these events and will blog about them throughout the autumn. Click on the titles for additional information.
This one-day High-level Forum will take place on 9 September at the UN Headquarters. It will comprise of an opening segment and two multi-stakeholder interactive panels and a brief closing segment. The two panels will focus on: (1) the role and contributions of women and the young to the Culture of Peace; and (2) global citizenship as a pathway to the Culture of Peace.
In preparation for the negotiation phase of the post-2015 development agenda during the 69th session, the President of the General Assembly is convening a High-Level Stocktaking Event to reflect upon the various post-2015 development-related processes, which have occurred during the current session of the General Assembly. The purpose is to provide Member States and other stakeholders with an opportunity to identify possible inputs to the Secretary-General’s synthesis report, to the work of the 69th session of the General Assembly, and to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda itself.
The first session of the Preparatory Committee of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) will take place in NY. The deadline for registration/accreditation is 31 August 2014. Click here for registration details.
16 September-1 October: 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 69)
The 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 69) will convene at the UN Headquarters on Tuesday, 16 September and the General Debate will open on Wednesday, 24 September. The debate’s opening was postponed from Tuesday, 23 September to accommodate the Climate Summit (resolution A/RES/57/301 and decision 68/512).
Sam Kutesa, UN General Assembly (UNGA) president-elect (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda), has announced that the theme for the 69th UNGA session will be “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.” UN Member States will be invited to comment on the theme during the 69th General Debate (beginning on 24 September 2014). Kutesa will be replacing the current UNGA President John Ashe.
Civil Society Participation in UNGA 69:
Because of the presence of high-level ministers and dignitaries at the UNGA69, civil society participation is very difficult. Civil society can attend the high-level meeting of the GA, which this year is: 22-23 September: The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
Unfortunately, to attend the UN Climate Summit meetings is by invitation only, but many climate-related events will take place throughout the week of 22-28 September. Supposedly there will be a mass protest for climate change somewhere in NYC, which I hope to attend.
Please keep tuned for additional information regarding these upcoming events, how they impact persons with disabilities around the globe, and CBM’s involvement.
The team are now hard at work in Iloilo city turning planning and assessments into action. After several days of assessing the needs of affected communities, we spent today buzzing around headquarters (the office of or partners ADPI) putting our plans into action.
The team are starting to feel tired from several long days in the field, but spirits remain high. As funds from donations to CBM start to come through, the team have begun focusing its efforts on arranging logistics to ramp up the relief efforts to those most in need.
I observed the team, both ADPI and CBM, working hard to turn the needs assessments into a relief program that will reach the most vulnerable in the communities, especially those people with disability.
The work isn’t easy, there is so much to organise. It seems that supplies in Iloilo city are already running low. There are volunteers to coordinate, food and other goods to procure and packages to assemble. And it all needs to be done urgently. ADPI’s dedication to the relief effort is inspiring!
It was with a tinge of sadness that I said farewell to the team today after an action-packed few days.
The CBM team is splitting in two. Willy and I headed back to Manila, while Gilbert and Ira remained in Iloilo city to support ADPI in their emergency relief efforts. One group photo and many farewell hugs later, I realise that the rapid assessment team had only been working together for four days, yet it felt like a lot longer.
Good luck to the team back there in Iloilo!
Today was the third day of the Rapid Needs Assessment and we visited the community of Estancia in the North East of Iloilo province in the Philippines. We started out at the crack of dawn with fish soup – while this was very different from my usual breakfast, I realised how blessed I was to even have food to eat.
The extent of the devastation in Estancia today was truly overwhelming.
It is hard to find the words to describe the scene of complete destruction. As far as the eye could see was total wreckage.
Every school we passed was roofless and classrooms were a shattered mess. The University was completely obliterated. Cars were pinned under collapsed roofs. No tree was left standing. In some places it seemed that only one in every ten houses remained. The destruction was almost unfathomable. Yet among the rubble, people greeted us warmly. They walked with us and shared their stories of the typhoon.
Over the past week our CBM team (Ira, Willy, Gilbert and myself) has joined forces with local partner the Association of Disabled Persons Incorporated (ADPI). ADPI strikes me as a force to reckon with. For the past 22 years they have been working with local government and people with disability to promote the rights of people with disability. With over 1000 members, their local networks are astonishing and in each community we are able to locate people with disability and find out what their needs are, thanks to their strong connections.
Annalyn from ADPI has taken up the task of being my interpreter, cultural guide, information officer, friend and technical advisor. Her wealth of knowledge, patience and dedication to the work continually astounds me. Chatting on the way home today, Annalyn shared a pearl of wisdom with the team:
“People feel that they are lucky to be alive. They have lost everything, but they will rebuild.”
This morning I was the rookie of the team and as we headed out for the second day of our rapid needs assessment, I was not sure what to expect. The further we drove towards our destination, the community of Concepcion, the worse the destruction got. The car was quiet as we witnessed the scenery turn from urban sprawl, to green rice fields, to a tangled mess of shattered houses, fallen power lines and uprooted trees. The devastation was clear – barely any house, land or tree had been spared, but it was hearing people’s stories that really hit home. We met with families, social workers, mayors and people with disability. No matter who they were, everyone had a story. For many, they talked about how afraid they were and how much they had lost. I felt humbled by their willingness to share their stories, and also by their high spirits. But the pain was raw and very real and for many it was too difficult to talk about the future.
The team told me that today was the first day it has not rained in Iloilo since the Typhoon hit five days ago. As the team headed home from a long day, I couldn’t help but notice that drying laundry hung everywhere. Littered among the rubble, draped along fallen tree trunks and hanging over fallen power lines were rows of clothes – from men’s shirts to tiny children’s clothes. It was a small piece of normality among a landscape of destruction. And in an odd way, I found it comforting. It was a reminder that in the aftermath of a crisis, we slowly go back to our simple tasks. One small task at a time.
In Turkana County, there is a general lack of awareness among communities and health service providers on issues related to disability
Often, specialised services and care centres are not available to persons with disabilities and their rights to equal opportunities are compromised.
Persons with disabilities are more vulnerable due to deliberate social exclusion, discrimination and sexual exploitation.
Lack of access to public amenities for people with physical sensory or psychosocial disabilities is concerning.
This project sought to strengthen the capacity of existing health care systems, both at health facility and community levels, to improve the quality and accessibility of essential and emergency health and nutrition services.
The project also sought to improve systems of identification of persons with disabilities and strengthen referral mechanisms to specialised care centres.
Linkages were created with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs), the local administration, community volunteers and Community Health Workers to promote awareness and advocate for acceptability and assistance to persons with disabilities.
Provision of assistive devices was also critical in supporting persons with disabilities in dire need of mobility.
The project enabled communities and families with persons living with disabilities integrate them into a more inclusive society, in which they can play a positive and active economic role.
Joseph is one of the many beneficiaries of this CBM intervention
[Joseph, Prosthesis beneficiary, Turkana County]
Since i received this prosthesis I don’t see myself anymore as a disabled person.
Now I am like anybody else, because I can take care of any task.
I can go to the river, collect firewood, run my shop with no help from others.
Before I was idle in the house asking myself who I was and what I was good for.
since I received this prosthesis my life has really changed. I run two different businesses,
I sell these hides and I can support my family.
I am very grateful for the help I received.
CBM is committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities and those at risk of disability in the developing countries of the world
Special thanks to
CBM New Zealand
How can you talk about outcome, when the meeting starts in a few hours? Well, you can already see the accessible version of the outcome document (OD) of the HLM DD on-line. It is great to see it already available in accessible formats.
The OD begins by reaffirming the commitment of the international community to the rights of persons with disabilities. It reminds us of the need to include persons with disabilities in the MDGs and the post-2015 framework. It calls for urgent action to adopt disability inclusive development strategies, and to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
It goes on to list a few areas for particular attention, which are already outlined in the CRPD. Education, healthcare, social protection, employment and decent work, universal design, data and statistics, research, awareness raising, women and children with disabilities all get a mention. This is much in line with the already committed to CRPD. II (K) also urges member states and the UN to make humanitarian response and DRR inclusive, which is excellent and builds on article 11 and 32 of the CRPD. It will be wonderful if this is carried through to the post Hyogo framework.
International development banks and financial institutions are called on to take persons with disabilities into account in their development efforts and lending mechanisms. It will signify great progress when this happens: To see a world where all programmes supported by these institutions were fully inclusive of and accessible to person with disabilities. All infrastructure developed through loans could be accessible. All education progress funded through the World Bank could be fully inclusive of persons with disabilities. Poverty reduction and social protection programmes would assist person with disabilities and their families to access opportunities to come out of poverty. You can read more about LPHUs work to help to make this a reality here: World Bank Safeguards Campaign.
II (O) is the hardest paragraph of the OD to read, and to interpret. It includes many aspects of development. It begins with a call for resource mobilisation, and a variety of forms of international cooperation to mainstream disability in development programmes. In the same sentence there is reference to capacity building, transfer of technology, technical assistance and capacity building, assistive technology accessibility for persons with disabilities, and empowerment. The second sentence includes a range of concepts from the difficulty of developing countries to mobilise resources ‘to meet pressing needs in mainstreaming disability in development including rehabilitation, habilitation, equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, health promotion and public health campaigns for the prevention of diseases and in addressing social, environmental and health risk factors through, inter alia, improving health care, maternal health, access to vaccination, access to clean water supply and sanitation and safe transport’. A proverbial shopping list, and not at all easy to interpret.
Since the OD relates to including persons with disabilities in development cooperation, as stated in the principles of the OD, this paragraph refers to access for persons with disabilities to all public health programmes available to the general population, in line with the CRPD. While the list of health actions in the OD might be considered useful, I think we should keep to the principle that persons with disabilities have the right to access comprehensive healthcare services on an equal basis with others, which goes beyond the list of public health actions mentioned here. This would be in the spirit of the the World Health Assembly resolution of May 2013 which called on the WHO to develop a disability action plan, focusing on healthcare and rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. WHO is conducting an online consultation, and regional consultations, right now, to develop this. The OD comes at a good time to reinforce member states efforts in accessible and inclusive healthcare.
What does the OD say about the future? How will this be followed up?
It calls for persons with disabilities to be included in the international development framework, and UN operational activities. This is a must and the HLM will be a springboard for stronger actions. The UN Secretary General is called to report back on success in implementation of the OD, which will also be welcome. Importantly the second last paragraph underlines the importance of consultation with DPOs.
Lastly, the UN General Assembly is called on to include in its final progress report on the MDGs, the steps take to implement the outcome document.
So, this day, and this outcome document brings us a step closer to the situation CBM would like to see: in every development policy, and in every international cooperation effort, persons with disabilities are included.
Later on today, when the HLM in underway, we will hear member states tell us what their key plans are. Watch this space.
Are you all ready for the High Level Meeting on disability and development?
This is a very exciting moment for CBM, as we approach this first ever UN High Level Meeting on Disability and Development, 23rd September 2013. It is also exciting, and a bit nerve wracking, because it is the first time we ever blog direct onto cbm.org without the magic filter (Gordon). So, we are reading me unedited, and jet-lagged. It might be good to put in a disclaimer here saying what you read is not (yet) CBM’s official position. Only I can be blamed!
I have been told to ‘be informal’ while writing this blog. So allow me another side track- the photo of me you see here on the blog, according to Gordon, ‘takes 10 years off me’. Thanks to Karin Klostermann in CBM Germanys press department for taking the photo. Thanks also to Gordon for taking me down a peg.
So tomorrow is the day of the HLM, and the world (at least the people in the world, like you, who care about the rights of persons with disabilities), will be watching. What will the UN Secretary General say? What commitments will our governments make? What progress will we see for women, men and children with disabilities everywhere, once this HLM is over?
In this blog, I will try to report on the main issue- what our governments are promising and signing up to. I will also give you an overview of many other events taking place around the HLM- which CBM colleagues and partners are also involved with.
The HLM can be watched online at: http://webtv.un.org/. The meeting goes on for the full day, during the day you can be alerted of who is speaking if you follow us on twitter @catherinecbm, @cbmworldwide and @CBMuk, and here, but perhaps a bit less immediate.
I have just read the wonderful news that Rima Canawati from the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation will have the chance to speak at the HLM itself. She has been recommended by IDDC as a speaker on behalf of civil society with focus women with disabilities and situations of conflict.
Watch this space on the 23rd!
Greetings from New York,