Reaching out through the United Nations

05 July 2019

Reaching out through the United Nations

The Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) takes place once a year. It is an opportunity for persons with disabilities to have their voices heard at the highest levels of government and an opportunity to ensure that states who have signed this UN Convention are living up to their commitment to support persons with disabilities.

For the second year running, The Leprosy Mission (TLM) was present and we were joined by Mr Amar Timalsina, who, as a person affected by leprosy, was able to speak truth to power at the highest levels of government.

Persons affected by leprosy need representation at this UN Conference

Around 20-25% of persons affected by leprosy have a disabilities as a consequence of leprosy. The Leprosy Mission has worked hard to ensure that the voices of people affected by leprosy can be heard at the UN as the UNCRPD is all about the rights of people with disabilities.

Nothing about us without us

Disabled People’s Organisations have a motto that is ‘Nothing about us without us’. The message here is that policies should not be decided or implemented without constant input from persons with disabilities

In his statement to the Conference of State Parties, The Leprosy Mission’s International Director, Brent Morgan, reiterated this message. As the UN works to provide greater inclusion for persons with disabilities, they should constantly seek insight from those people that they are working to include.

Amar Timalsina is a person affected by leprosy and advocates on behalf of people affected by leprosy. As a member of the TLM delegation, Amar had a crucial opportunity to speak at the UN Conference, a landmark moment in the history of TLM.

Commitments made at the UN will have an impact on lives

As well as speaking at the Conference, TLM also hosted a side event specifically focused on leprosy, which was chaired by Brent. The event was attended by members of the CRPD Committee, who are responsible for ensuring the UN works to achieve greater inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The outcomes from this event include a desire to increase awareness in leprosy affected communities through mass media with the aim of dispelling myths associated with conditions such as leprosy and mental illness.

As well as this, the issue of the discriminatory laws that are still in place in 38 different countries was discussed and it was agreed that countries need to take the necessary steps to repeal or amend these laws. Until this happens, people affected by leprosy will still face laws that discriminate against them.

The side event was a great success as crucial players in the work to end the exclusion of persons with disability committed to support persons affected by leprosy with the two outcomes above, as well as a number of other important steps.

Visiting the UN to take part in this Conference has become a crucial part of TLM’s work to represent person’s affected by leprosy. By advocating at this level we can have a profound impact across the globe. We hope that in the years to come we will continue to have a big impact as we work to bring an end to disability and discrimination as a consequence of leprosy.  

See Brent's message to the UN Conference here: