Press Release

IACHR welcomes broad participation in consultation on Persons with Disabilities

July 20, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) appreciates the broad participation in the first public consultation of the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was nourished by the many face-to-face and written contributions from various representative sectors of civil society and the States.

The IACHR held the first public consultation of the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on June 22, 2018 at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, in Lima, Peru, with the main objective of achieving the participatory construction of its work plan. Broad sectors of civil society, including persons with disabilities, activists, non-governmental organizations, experts, academia and state authorities, worked together not only to identify the most pressing challenges facing persons with disabilities in the region today, but also to design proposals for the lines of work that the Commission will then implement through its Thematic Unit.

The Inter-American Commission registered 151 registrations, with the participation of 70 people from 17 member countries of the Organization of American States, in addition to the contributions received before and during the public consultation.

In their interventions, representatives of civil society stressed the importance of recognizing persons with disabilities as subjects of rights and obligations; "Let's talk about rights and not about social protection", they demanded. At the end of the event, they said: "We are happy to work with the Inter-American Commission on this public consultation process, which will undoubtedly mean a change in our rights and equal opportunities for all men and women in the region.” They added: “Through this consultation, the IACHR recognizes organizations representing persons with disabilities as fundamental organizations in the participation process. We have a lot to say and we have had the opportunity to say it.”

The meeting produced concrete proposals to address issues such as institutionalization, the enjoyment of legal capacity and access to justice, among others. At the same time, the participants agreed on the importance of articulating themselves in order to advance in the conquest of the struggles that this group has historically waged in the area of human rights, this time with the support of the different mechanisms available in the Inter-American Human Rights System.

"Once this successful day is over, it is now up to the Commission to work on the first work plan for the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, based on the inputs received," said the Commissioner in charge of the Thematic Unit, Francisco Eguiguren Praeli.  "My invitation now is to continue to be actively involved in the work of the IACHR's Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in order to promote the changes that are urgently needed in our region.”

The Inter-American Commission would like to express special thanks to the Catholic University of Peru, and in particular, to the Legal Clinic for Actions of Public Interest in Disability and Human Rights attached to the Academic Office of Social Responsibility of the School of Law, its authorities, academics and students, who together ensured the successful realization of the event.  In the words of Commissioner Margaret May Macaulay: "Experiences such as these confirm the firm conviction that we have in the Commission regarding the many possibilities that together we can offer to the users of the Inter-American Human Rights System, contributing to progress in the promotion and defense of human rights, and bringing the organs of the System closer to the greatest possible number of people".

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 157/18