Social Forum of the UN Human Rights Council

On Monday 3 October, Anna Lawson participated in the Social Forum of the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The topic of this year’s Forum (an annual event) was the human rights of disabled people – in light of the fact that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The Social Forum was attended by key figures from the UN community – including the chair and other members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; the president of the Human Rights Council; and members of other UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies including the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. It also brought together representatives of governments and civil society (particularly disabled people’s organisations) from all over the world. A key aim was to provide a space for dialogue and exchange of experience and ideas – to reflect on the first ten years of the CRPD and how to make the next ten as effective as possible.

In the second of three panel sessions for the day (‘Persons with Disabilities and Human Diversity: Embracing Diversity and Awareness Raising’), Anna presented a paper on the role of research in achieving progress toward the full realisation of human rights for disabled people. She identified three particular roles for research (to provide evidence for relevant policy formulation, to provide evidence about relevant policy implementation, and to increase universally designed goods, services and products) – all of which are explicitly recognised in CRPD obligations. She also drew attention to a number of important lessons learned from disability studies research to bear in mind for the next ten years. She then acted as moderator for the third and final panel session of the day (‘Accessibility and Non-Discrimination: Leaving No-one Behind’).

Although the Social Forum lasts for three days, Anna’s teaching commitments (not to mention Ufty the guide dog!) called her back to Leeds at the close of the first day. A tiring but at the same time energising and useful trip to an event which (she says) she felt privileged to participate.

For the International Disability Alliance’s write-up of the day, see the International disability alliance website. 

For an article from Disability News Service on discrimination faced by autistic females, see Disability news service website.