Disabled youth and older people from 16 Commonwealth countries came together from 15-17 March, 2008 in London to launch a unique Commonwealth Disabled Peoples’ Forum , the purposes of which will be to provide a link between disabled people’s organisations in all Commonwealth countries and all the political structures of the Commonwealth.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October 2007 the civil society challenge to CHOGM was to mainstream disability in sustainable development, to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) and to adopt disability inclusive policies.
This cannot be achieved without a strong, democratic forum of disabled youth and adults to ensure implementation.
We had a vibrant and dynamic series of meetings to consolidate the vision, constitution and activities of the Forum .
The youth met separately to devise their own creative methods of self representation and organisation. We came together in a final agreement of how to go forward together.
It is essential that the voice of young disabled people is heard clearly in the work of the CDPF. They are the future leaders and builders of our shared vision of a Commonwealth built on equality, human rights and respect for diversity.
The major focus of our work in the next two years, including a major conference before CHOGM in 2009, will be to ensure that Commonwealth countries sign, ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
As Rachel Kachaje said at the Launch of the CDPF, hosted by the Commonwealth Foundation at Marlborough House,
‘Disabled people see that hope springs out of the convention – hope for a new, inclusive world where disabled people can be seen as fully human’
We, (put in the name of your organisation and country), are very proud to have part of this exciting new beginning and look forward to working with our disabled colleagues to ensure our full inclusion in all the nations of our shared Commonwealth.
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This meeting was funded by the Commonwealth Foundation, DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and ADD.
Officers elected were: Chair: James Mwanda (Uganda), Vice Chair: George Daniel (Tinidad & Tobago), Secretary: Javed Abidi (India), Treasurer: Richard Rieser (UK), Women’s Representative: Rachel Kachaje, (Malawi) Youth Representatives: Laura Kanusu (Uganda) George Kasara (Kenya), Regional Representatives: Ghulam Nabi Nizaamani (Pakistan), Lesley Emmanuel (Antigua), Setareki Macanawai (Fiji), Steve Estey (Canada) Thomas Ongolo (South Africa).
The registered office of the CDPF will be in India and there will be a liaison office in the UK to work directly with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Foundation.
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