Commonwealth Parliamentarians and human rights leaders join workshop to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRI) co-hosted a virtual workshop on protecting and promoting disability rights to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021.

The workshop, titled ‘How NHRIs and Parliaments can protect and promote disability rights,’ took place on 2 December 2021 and brought together Commonwealth Parliamentarians, national human rights commissioners, civil society leaders and activists. The focus of discussion was the many opportunities for collaboration between Parliaments and national human rights institutions in the effort to defend disability rights, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Above: Senator Floyd Morris (Jamaica, right) opens the workshop, accompanied by an American Sign Language interpreter.

The CPA works though its Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network to encourage Commonwealth Parliaments and Parliamentarians to enable effective and full participation of persons with disabilities at all levels. The CFNHRI is a member-led network of human rights institutions, ombudsmen, and public defenders. It is working towards a Commonwealth where human rights are respected, protected and enjoyed.

The CPwD Chairperson, Hon. Dennitah Ghati, HSC MP (Kenya), in her opening remarks at the workshop, said:

“Members of Parliament have a responsibility to ensure that draft legislation is in conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have a responsibility to work with National Human Rights Institutions to ensure government decisions comply with international human rights treaties. And we must liaise with civil society organisations to implement relevant laws and legislation to protect disability rights.”

The joint workshop is one of several CPA activities marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The latest edition of The Parliamentarianthe CPA’s Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments, is also dedicated to persons with disabilities. The theme for the edition is ‘the challenges and barriers facing people with disabilities in the Commonwealth.’ It will be launched next week to continue the momentum of discussion and activism on disability issues.

A range of articles will consider the role that Commonwealth Parliaments can play in advancing and supporting people with disabilities. Contributors include Parliamentarians from Kenya, Fiji, Jamaica, Pakistan, Nigeria and Scotland, plus international experts from Microsoft, the Global Disability Hub and the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum. To receive the digital edition of The Parliamentarian straight to your inboxsign up to our mailing list.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is marked every year on 3 December. It was established by the United Nations in 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.