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COSP17: World leaders must prioritise inclusion of people with disabilities at Summit of the Future and beyond

June 2024

Speaking at COSP17, Sightsavers’ Equal World called for concrete actions which will advance rights and prioritise inclusion of people with disabilities.

The Conference of States Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability is where states gather to report on progress and challenges surrounding the implementation of the UN’s disability treaty. Sightsavers Campaign Advisor Ayon Debnath told UN missions and civil society partners about the opportunity the Summit of the Future presents to put people with disabilities at the top of the agenda.

Read our statement in full.

This week, at the Conference of States Parties, the rights of persons with disabilities are top of the agenda. But unfortunately, we know that this is often not the case.

The rights of persons with disabilities still remain an afterthought. Here, at the UN, we have witnessed this recently, when the zero drafts of both the agreed conclusions for the Commission on the Status of Women and Pact for the Future contained no references to disability.

Nearly 20 years since the introduction of the CRPD, disability rights are still not institutionalised in global or national policy.

But there are opportunities to change this.

As you prepare for the Summit of the Future, it is crucial to prioritise the inclusion of people with disabilities. We need strong language in the Pact for the Future, retaining the references in the current draft and building on them, to ensure the Summit and the Pact don’t just mention people with disabilities but include concrete actions which will advance their rights. We need an impact coalition specifically focusing on disability.

Another key opportunity that must be realised is the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, which has the potential to be transformative for the UN system and beyond. As we reach five years of the strategy a lot has been accomplished, but progress will stall if it is not sustainably and systematically financed. The upcoming review is an opportunity to reinvigorate progress and reaffirm the importance of the strategy.

Disability rights must be core to discussions that take place here at the UN, including around what is financed, and not just added later as an afterthought.

The same is true at the national level, it is critical that governments build on the progress made towards realisation of the Convention – removing discriminatory laws and policies, strengthening accountability mechanisms, and developing more inclusive systems that respond to the rights of persons with disabilities across the life course.

As we look towards the future, we call on member states to commit to a world where everyone, including persons with disabilities, has the opportunity to thrive. Together, we can create a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all.

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