June 23, 2019 by Richard Rieser
Delegates to the Civil Society Forum of the Conference of State Parties of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held on Monday 10th June were told by Mohammed Lofty of DPI who was chairing the afternoon session that the UN had decidded on ‘safety grounds’that wheelchair users who were observers, would not be alloweed to the opening ceremony in the General Assembly Hall on the morning of Tuesday 11th June and that the afternoon and subsequent sessions in Committee Room C they would need to go to an overflow room in Committee Room E to watch proceedings remotely.
This led to a number of delegate observers from the UK Michelle Daley, Anthony Ford, Richard Rieser and Lucy Mason to start a discussion that led to a leaflet and a call for a puicket the next morning
Efforts were made to run off leaflets at the Hotel were delegates were staying and this was boosted by Fed EX being open until 10 pm where another 200 were printed.
Richard Rieser representing Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance International Committee, the author of the leaflet, was at the UN in the Foyer to give out leaflets at 8.50 am and soon joined by many other delegates and more than 60 mainly wheelchair users joined the picket. Many country delegates to the COSPs took the leaflet and said they would raise the matter inside. Soon officials from the UN came and said it was a mistake and would be sorted out. We said we would not move until the matter was resolved. Fifteen Minutes later Vladamir Cuk, Chief Executive of International Disability Alliance thanked us and said 20 wheelchair using observers would be allowed onto the floor of the general assembly and 40 in the balcony. This would not have happened without the Action.
This photo shows wheelchair using observers inside the General Assembly
Wheelchair users can bee seen on right and left of the main floor as a result of the action.