The Third Committee’s meeting focused on basic human rights for people with disabilities. The chairperson, María Soledad Cisternas Reyes, began by stating that she believes sign language must be preserved and should be recognized as an official global language at the UN. Ms. Reyes emphasized inclusive educational opportunities for people with disabilities as a necessity, and that voting rights should be a priority. She also spoke to the need for intersectional representation in gender and people with disabilities at the UN and in other decision-making positions.
The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, expressed that communtiy policies neeed to include people with disabilities in the drafting process and in enactment. People need to be able to live independently and have access to resources, such as wheelchairs, personal care supplies, and new beneficial technology. Ms. Aguilar stated a community-based approach would be the most effective in involving and empowering people with disabilities.
In closing, Ikponwosa Ero, the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism, spoke to the necessity of including people with albinism in human rights discussions. Many people with albinism have been violently attacked due to prejudice, or myths that connect albinism to witchcraft in several cultures. Some believe albinism is connected to cancer, which further leads to isolation and acts of violence. Ms. Ero concluded with the message that albinism awareness and education needs to spread to rural communities if targeted violence against people with albinism is to stop.
Meeting: 27th Meeting of the Third Committee, “Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”
Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, 26 October 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; Conference Room 1
Speakers: María Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Chair of the Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Ikponwosa Ero, Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism
Written By: Sophia Kotik, WIT Representative