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Australian Youth Delegation Daily Report - Tuesday 10 June 2014
Conference of State Parties (COSP) in New York
  Thursday 12 June 2014
 
Dear ,
 
This morning, the Australian NGO Youth Delegation arrived early to an empty conference room so that we could position ourselves near the Australian Government Delegation members for the opening of the Conference of States Parties (COSP)

We had a brief, productive meeting with representatives of the Australian Government Delegation where we took the opportunity to voice concerns regarding disability, both in Australia and internationally. During our meeting, all the government representatives’ members from around the world congregated in the conference room, so that by our meeting's conclusion, the COSP was ready to commence.

The president of the conference (from Kenya) opened the COSP. He stressed that we have "made progress, but still have a long way to go" in regards to implementation of the CRPD and ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are transformative for persons with disability. The message from the Secretary General (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) pushed member States' priorities, which he noted should be education, social and financial inclusion, enhanced data gathering, and inclusion of disability humanitarian programming. Ms. Soledad (Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)) further pressed accessibility to legislative and social norms, and frankly noted: "women and children with disabilities have a longer ladder to climb to get the standards than men and women without disabilities."

After these speeches, the election for the new Members of the CRPD commenced. 145 State Parties were involved in the voting and 21 candidates were up for nomination. It was disappointing
 
 
IMAGE: Attendees at the opening of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) in New York, June 2014
IMAGE: Attendees at the opening of
the Conference of States Parties (COSP)
in New York, June 2014
 
 
IMAGE: Australian Government Delegation at COSP in New York
IMAGE: Australian Government Delegation
at COSP in New York
 
 
to see the lack of gender equality in nominations, with only four women nominated by their States (Germany, Poland, Qatar, & U.A.E). After the election, States Parties discussed matters regarding the implementation of the CRPD.
 
At lunchtime the Australian NGO Youth Delegation dispersed to different activities. Some delegates stayed at the COSP to listen to the general debate. Other delegates enjoyed various side-events that were empowering and informing, such as the heartbreaking film Life Feels Good (Permanent Mission of Poland); access to social media in The Wonders of Technology (ABILITY Awareness); and CRPD Independent Monitoring in Federated States (Canadian Association for Community Living) where Australia's Rosemary Kayess (University of New South Wales) was one of five esteemed speakers.
 
Late in the afternoon, the Australian NGO Youth Delegation was listed to speak to the COSP along with other civil society organisations. Members of the delegation quickly prepared key points for our brief statement and Brendan Pearce was nominated to speak on our behalf.  In a two minute statement Brendan spoke about our belief that the inclusion of youth is an area needing critical attention for implementation of the CRPD.
 
IMAGE: Brendan Pearce representing the Australian youth with disability delegation at COSP, New York   IMAGE: Brendan Pearce and Ace Boncato at COSP in New York
IMAGE (left): Brendan Pearce representing the Australian youth with disability delegation at COSP, New York
IMAGE (right): Brendan Pearce and Ace Boncato at COSP in New York
 
We recommended that this inclusion should not just be a tokenistic requirement, but rather be considered for automatic inclusion in legislative and policy processes.  We emphasised that youth with disability need training and capacity building in disability rights and leadership so that the next generation of leaders can contribute to disability reform.  We also commended the members of the COSP for including a specific discussion on the inclusion of youth with disability in their meeting agenda.
 
Bonnie Millen and myself attended the UNICEF youth training session on Training on Post-2015 and Disability Inclusion.  This youth-centred event was led by Orsolya Bartha (International Disability Alliance), Elizabeth Lockwood (International Disability and Development Consortium), and Ambrose Murangira (Uganda National Association of the Deaf). We looked at the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes 230 targets. Ms. Lockwood explained that there were five references to disability within the SDG's, however, no references to youth with disability specifically. Without explicit mention of diversity of disability (e.g. youth, women, Indigenous) the specific issues concerning these groups is more likely to be ignored/removed.
 
Mr. Murangira encouraged lively discussion groups on topics specific to youth with disability. Each group presented their information on the topics of Citizenship, Starting Families, Education, Health, and Employment. My group was posed to discuss employment. It was interesting to have a group inclusive of so many countries and a wide variety of disability types; this allowed us to gain a variety of perspectives. It appeared that across nations, cultures and disability types the base issues were the same: stigmatisation (causing difficulty in gaining employment); discrimination (from employers and fellow employees); accessibility (limits inclusion even if qualified); and ill-equipped education (lowers chances for employment if curriculum does not relate to the business and economic world).
 
It was a beautifully exhausting day had by all and tomorrow looks as if it will present more challenges to our ideals, more discussions with inspirational people, and more promotion of the goals we wish to be pushed in the CRPD and SDGs.
 
Cashelle Dunn
Australian NGO Youth Delegation
 
 
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