What is CoSP and why is it important?

Reducing poverty in Bihar, India through a community based inclusive development initiative.

Every year since 2006, individuals and organisations from around the globe gather with a united purpose: to discuss the implementation of the landmark Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘the Convention’) in a Conference of State Parties (CoSP).

CoSP 2019 presented a key opportunity for those engaged with the disability rights movement, bringing together people with disabilities, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs), technical experts and donors. It was an occasion of international significance where the voices of people with disabilities were magnified, and active participation of people with disabilities was facilitated.

CBM played an active role at this year’s CoSP by leading a side event entitled “Making Inclusion a Reality!” and, through partnering with other international organisations, advocated for a world that is disability inclusive. 

The Convention was first adopted by the United Nations on 13 December 2006 as the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century. Each year, nations that have ratified the Convention, including Australia, attend CoSP. The Convention itself (Article 40) stipulates that “the States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties (CoSP) in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.”

This month marked the 12th session of CoSP. Each year CoSP has a specific focus, and in 2019 this focus was Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world through the implementation of the CRPD.  Through a series of consultations, it was determined that to fully explore this focus, three round-tables discussions would be held on the following topics:

  1. Technology, digitalisation and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) for the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities
  2. Social inclusion and the right to the highest attainable standard of health
  3. Inclusion of persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports

The Australian delegation included representatives from the Australian Government, the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).  Australian organisations and DPOs took this opportunity to attend side events to ensure that the Australian / Pacific voice was heard throughout the conference.

CoSP is an opportunity to learn more about how we can work together to make the global impetus for disability inclusion a reality. Each time CoSP is held, the INGO sector takes the opportunity to hold side events that contribute to the overall learnings of this larger event, share their learnings and experiences, and drive improved practice across sectors.

To understand the relevance of CoSP to the INGO sector, it is necessary to understand the relevance of the Convention to people with disabilities. The Convention is a tool for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the same rights and opportunities as everybody else. It is a human rights treaty designed by representatives of the international community – including people with disabilities, government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organisations and others – to change the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated in their societies. Rather than considering disability as an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the Convention challenges people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue.

CoSP is important in the understanding of disability as a human rights issue because it provides opportunities for open and interactive international dialogue on issues that impact people’s lives. People with disabilities and their representative organisations are agents of change, and CoSP is one of a handful of significant international events that recognises their pivotal role in ensuring inclusion at international, regional and national levels.

Whilst implementation of the Convention is done at a national level, it is also important to bring it back to an international level. This ensures that we can drive progress, ensure consistency where practical, and utilise UN systems for positive change around the world – in part through supporting developing countries to ratify the Convention. This is so we can contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities around the world on a global scale.

CoSP is not alone on the calendar of international events that contributes to the inclusion of people with disabilities around the world. 2019 sees a range of activities occur that will drive progress towards both the SDGs and the rights of people with disabilities. They bring together interested parties and create forums for discussion and learning about realising the promise of the SDGs and other treaties driving positive change around the world.

Other events include:

CBM’s commitment to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest places in the world drives us to be involved in events and forums that discuss or impact upon people with disabilities at a national, regional and international level. CBM maintains a core focus on supporting people with disabilities as active participants in achieving a more inclusive and sustainable 2030. One way we do this is by mobilising partners worldwide to ensure that no person with disability is left behind.

CBM, along with our various partners, ensure we participate at these important international events to amplify the voices of people with disabilities, particularly those in the Pacific. This is why CBM not only hosted “Making Inclusion a Reality!”at CoSP 2019, but is also proud to have been involved in and supported several other presentations and activities by other organisations. We are proud of our involvement with and contribution to these side events, and will share valuable information about these events.

CBM and our partners were well represented, especially through side events we supported, co-sponsored, moderated or presented, including:

CBM’s contribution to CoSP’s side events added to the dialogue on the need for DPOs and people with disabilities to be at the forefront of the inclusion agenda. This agenda supports international development and humanitarian actors’ efforts to be inclusive so that INGOs can meet the requirements of the Convention and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

CBM’s technical expertise and experience at implementing inclusive programming and supporting others to do this means that our contribution to international activities is significant. When participating in international activities, we ensure that we partner with other organisations and individuals to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are heard, and that their experiences and knowledge can be included in international approaches. This is to ensure that they are not left behind in development activities working towards an inclusive world by 2030.

CBM welcomed the unique opportunity CoSP presented to learn more about how we can work together to make the global impetus for inclusion a reality, to discuss important issues, and to find ways forward in terms of rectifying issues at both sector and government levels.

Read CBM’s statement from the CoSP opening ceremony.

Acknowledgements

CBM acknowledges and thanks contributions to this piece from:

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