The Commonwealth will be discussing ways to make disability rights a reality during its one-day meeting to be held at Marlborough House, headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation in London, UK, on Thursday.
The event, co-organised by the Secretariat, the Foundation and the Commonwealth Disabled People's Forum, will bring together 50 participants, including high commissioners and civil society representatives, on the fourth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to share perspectives on a human rights instrument focused on social development for people with disabilities.
“Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities are estimated to live in developing countries, conversely having a disability increases the risk of poor educational outcomes, unemployment and poverty,” said Karen McKenzie, Acting Head of the Human Rights Unit in a media note obtained by LEADERSHIP.
“Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school and are more likely to leave school without the qualifications and skills required to find employment and lead an independent life.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out the practical action that is required to remove barriers which prevent them from obtaining a quality education, decent employment and putting in place the support to make the human rights of persons with disabilities an everyday reality,” she explained.
McKenzie stated that the meeting aims to outline some of the key challenges persons with disabilities face in the developing world, the scale of the issue, and some of the steps which need to be taken to address the urgent need for capacity development in member countries in order to realise the full potential and hear the voices of persons with disabilities.
To date, 27 Commonwealth countries have ratified the Convention since it came into force in 2008.
Rachel Kachaje, Interim Chair of the Commonwealth Disabled People's Forum, who contracted polio at a young age, will share her perspective on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
Richard Rieser, Director, World of Inclusion, the UK Disabled People’s Council representative to the United Nations, will also address the meeting. He called for assistance in capacity-building for countries, professionals and organisations for people with disabilities last September at the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.
Commonwealth Assistant Secretary - General Steve Cutts will deliver the opening address at the meeting.