The Leprosy Mission sent a delegation to the 11th Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), held on 12-14 June in New York at UN HQ.
Pradeep Bagival, Head of Advocacy at The Leprosy Mission International, shares his reflections on the conference:
The UN CRPD entered its 10th year since coming into force in 2008. The conference witnessed participation from 177 countries that have ratified the convention, which included 21 leprosy endemic countries. The participants included senior officials of the national governments, officials of the UN agencies, members of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), NGOs, disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and individuals involved in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
Participation in the 11th CoSP was of special significance to The Leprosy Mission and to persons affected by leprosy for the following reasons:
The theme of the conference was ‘leaving no one behind through full implementation of the CRPD’. The CoSP became a platform for The Leprosy Mission to echo the voice of persons with leprosy-related disabilities, who are significant in number and have been hitherto excluded from the mainstream disability rights movement. For the first time in the history of the CRPD, the issues concerning stigma and discrimination faced by persons with leprosy-related disabilities were heard and made known to all the disability stakeholders attending the CoSP.
The global conference provided an opportunity for The Leprosy Mission to appeal to 21 leprosy-burdened countries who have ratified the CRPD to eliminate discrimination against persons affected by leprosy by implementing the Principles and Guidelines adopted by the UN General Assembly.
The Leprosy Mission also contributed to the Civil Society Forum – one of six civil society organisations (CSOs) to make a statement – emphasising the need for engaging CSOs in the monitoring of the CRPD.
The Leprosy Mission was one of the select NGOs to speak during the Round Table discussions. Brent Morgan, The Leprosy Mission’s International Director, was one of the speakers who strongly articulated for the realisation of the rights to political participation and equal recognition before the law for all persons with disabilities. He specifically highlighted the denial of these critical rights in the case of persons with leprosy-related disabilities. He emphasised that persons with leprosy-related disabilities are perhaps the only group amongst people with disabilities who face ‘legal discrimination’ on account of discriminatory legislations that are still in force in many countries, denying them the right to political participation and equal recognition before the law.
A side event was organised by The Leprosy Mission along with Disabled People’s International, a global cross-disability organisation with a presence in 130 countries, and the Nippon Foundation, a social innovation hub supporting persons affected by leprosy through provision of grants to NGOs on using ‘CRPD as a normative framework to end stigma and discrimination against persons with leprosy-related disabilities.’
Amar Timalsina was one of the speakers who represented persons affected and shared his personal experiences of being subjected to the prevailing stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy. Mr Mohammad Lofty represented Disabled People's International and highlighted some of the organisation's collaborative efforts to include persons affected by leprosy within the DPO network globally. Pradeep Bagival spoke about the barriers persons with leprosy-related disabilities encounter in realising some of the critical rights guaranteed under the CRPD. The panel discussion was moderated by Brent Morgan.