From 13 to 15 June 2023, disability advocates from around the world will gather at the 16th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP16) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York USA. Light for the World will be there to connect with important partners and international disability advocates, as well as drive for the global implementation of the CRPD and disability rights.
An international conference for disability rights
In 2006, the CRPD was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Since then, individuals and organisations from around the world have gathered every year to discuss challenges and best practices and to advocate for disability inclusion.
Held at the UN Headquarters, COSP brings together people with disabilities, Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), state delegations, technical experts, donors and International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs), like Light for the World.
COSP16 represents a key moment for the disability and inclusion sector and will set the agenda for disability inclusion for the coming years. The focus this year is sexual and reproductive health services, digital accessibility and the rights of under-represented groups of people with disabilities.
“COSP16 is an opportunity to understand more about how we can work together to make disability inclusion a reality. We hope to learn from others and to share our best practices and lessons learnt from our experiences in the countries where we work – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan and Uganda – around economic empowerment, eye health, and inclusive education for people with disabilities.”Marion Lieser, CEO of Light for the World
Marion Lieser, CEO of Light for the World, David Whedbee, President of Light for the World USA, and Benedikt van den Boom, Advocacy Coordinator, will attend to learn from and connect with national, regional and international experts, organisations and UN entities.
While at COSP, they will take part in several bi-lateral meetings, including with the Permanent Missions of Austria and Mozambique, UNICEF and International Disability Alliance (IDA). Discussions will reflect on disability inclusion efforts and potential areas of future work.
Effective inclusion in South Sudan and beyond
One place where future collaboration is particularly important is South Sudan – the youngest country in the world and the newest addition to COSP as a state party, after signing the CRPD on 24 February 2023.
“For the past 15 years, we persistently encouraged the South Sudanese government to ratify and sign the Convention through the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and through the empowerment of OPDs,” says Sophia Mohammed, country director for Light for the World in South Sudan. “The next step is to make sure that the Convention is enforced. By signing the CRPD, the government of South Sudan has agreed to enact laws that promote the rights enshrined within it and abolish discrimination towards persons with disabilities.”
International cooperation will support South Sudan to drive positive change, monitor commitments and encourage implementation of the CRPD. This can take the form of specific development projects, disability-sensitive budget support for the government, or humanitarian data that shows how many South Sudanese children with disabilities are in school, for example. This cooperation is also anchored in the Convention itself:
“States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present Convention and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard.”
At Light for the World, we are committed to using this opportunity to advance the rights of people with disabilities in South Sudan as well as in other countries. We call on the international community, advocates, duty bearers and rights holders of the CRPD to join us and play their respective roles in protecting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.