05 Feb 2018

The International Disability Alliance (IDA), together with IDDC and the GQUAL Campaign, co-sponsored a meeting convened by the States’ Group of Friends to the CRPD

The meeting entitled “Promoting gender balance, quality and independence in the nomination and elections processes for the CRPD committee”, took place on 30 January in New York, and was an opportunity to share key remarks related to the upcoming CRPD Committee elections and the need to restore gender balance to move towards gender parity within its membership and improve nomination and election processes. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas, participated in the event along with representatives of the Permanent Missions to the UN of the States of the Group of Friends to the CRPD.

As the first speaker, Catalina Devandas recalled the outcome of the 2016 CRPD Committee elections, which led to its current composition consisting of 17 men and only 1 woman. She highlighted the pressing need for States Parties increase the number of women in the Committee at the 2018 elections in June. She also highlighted that Ms Ana Pelaez running for election in the CEDAW Committee is a great opportunity to also increase participation of persons with disabilities in other UN Treaty Bodies.

Claudia Martin, Human Rights Professor at the American University, Washington College of Law, presented the main objectives of the joint campaign. She recalled States’ obligations under international human rights law to ensure gender equality, emphaising Article 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women which requires States Parties to “take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.” In conclusion, she highlighted the need to develop participatory nomination procedures at the national level that ensure women have the opportunity to compete on equal terms with men.

IDA Senior Advisor on Human Rights, Silvia Quan, strongly called for States to consult closely with organisations of persons with disabilities in their respective countries - at national level during the nomination process and during the election process at international level. She highlighted the need for timely and wide dissemination of all information related to the nomination and election processes. Silvia went to make point out the need to develop mechanisms and processes, both at the national and international level, to publicly assess and scrutinise candidates profile (including public hearings open to civil society participation), and to clearly set assessment guidance to ensure that candidates meet the criteria required by the CRPD.

Representing IDDC, Elizabeth Lockwood stressed IDDC's support for the call to States Parties to the CRPD to consider gender balance as a criterion when nominating and voting for candidates in order to move towards gender parity. Elizabeth called on States to continue to fulfil their obligations, including by developing participatory national nomination procedures and improving election procedures at the international level. This in turn will help to ensure that candidates fulfil the criteria of professional competencies, experience of human rights of persons with disabilities, independence, and give particular consideration to candidates with disabilities and ensuring a geographic spread. She also highlighted that gender representation and the active participation of women with disabilities in decision-making at all levels is a critical step in ensuring greater equality, and that States have an opportunity to strive towards greater gender parity which will strengthen CRPD compliance for all persons with disabilities.

The presentations were followed by a Q&A session, in which States representatives had the opportunity to express their views and exchange on ongoing practices pertaining to the CRPD upcoming election next June. The constructive conversation will hopefully renew efforts to improve practices.

IDDC, together with IDA and GQUAL, will continue to promote participatory nomination and elections procedures for the upcoming CRPD elections.