Last July, Richard Rieser attended the Global Summit on Disability, called by UK Government DFID in Stratford. Seen by Disabled people as a cynical attempt to change the Government’s negative image on disability, it did bring together Governments, NGOs and Disabled People’s leaders from around the world, to make clear commitments on disability inclusive development. Richard, there to Chair a workshop, saw many activists he recognised from previous involvement as treasurer in the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF) which functioned from 2008-2013. He called an impromptu meeting to discuss restarting the Forum. Delegates agreed to hold a re-launch conference during the Conference of State Parties of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York, June 2019. The Commonwealth consists of 53 countries with a population of more than 2500 million, with over 450 million disabled people.
DFID gave money to the Disability Rights Fund for a re-launch conference, held in New York on June 13th 2019. Richard organised this with the help of Action on Disability and Development. 39 delegates from 27 Commonwealth countries adopted a new constitution, set up priorities for work and elected a representative Executive with Richard as General Secretary. The CDPF is committed to ensuring all 53 countries fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Sustainable Development Goals and develop grass roots pressure to force Governments to implement Disability Inclusive Development. Websitewww.commonwealthdpf.org .
At both the UN Side event on 12th June and the full day re-launch Conference, there was incredible energy, engagement and positive approach from disabled DPO representatives from the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific. Rachel Kachaje, from Malawi, the newly elected Chair speaking at the Reception held after the Re-launch said ‘How important it was that disabled people across the Commonwealth now had a strengthened voice and would develop the capacity and means to influence their Governments to bring about positive and long lasting change in the lives of Disabled People.’