After being approved on the December 13th, 2006 the CRPD was opened to signature on the March 30th, 2007 and this launched the ratification process. The ink was not even dry when we organized the first event, one month and a half after the approval - at the end of January 2007, during the Central American Forum in Nicaragua. This was the first of a long series of events, which marked the Convention-related dissemination, promotion and trainings for Spanish and Portuguese speakers. We gave many trainings, together with Stefan Tromel, who played a prominent role within the International Disability Caucus. We organized many seminars and workshops on the Convention. I remember in Chili, we generated pressure and, on the final day of the seminar, the news came that the Parliament had just ratified the treaty. At the same time, we were also providing activists with tools so that the Treaty - once ratified - could be turned into truly inclusive public policies that would really improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities.
Luis Fernando Astorga
Working alongside Luis Fernando, we took advantage of his broad knowledge of the organizations in Central America. This really brought me to an understanding of the international system’s realities. We edited a toolkit to present inclusive development as a concept and we organized training modules based on this handbook. We also produced CDs, audios and another guide about the Convention, when the Convention came out. Luis Fernando worked on the content, and I worked on the methodology. We really had to think about how to adopt a pedagogical approach that could make the issue simple, without losing the details. The idea was that people with disabilities could make the Convention their own. We also really had to think about how to structure our discourse to make the Convention accessible, irrespectively of the trainee’s level of education, in a kind of bite-by-bite approach.
Once this beautiful text had emerged, picking up most of the claims made by civil society during the negotiations, the need came for countries to ratify it, so that it could enter into force. At this time, the focus needed to stop being only in New York, but we needed to decentralize the work on the Convention to national levels, to gather as many country signatures as possible. To this respect, the South project had laid some foundations, so that the leaders who had participated in the drafting process could explain to the civil society of their respective countries the stakes of this new Convention. It was important for an organization such as Handicap International to promote the Convention at national levels through the creation of dissemination and training tools. The partnerships that we had developed during the elaboration of the text with disabled people organizations enabled us to work along with the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the world alliance of organization of disabled people organizations on these enormous needs for training. They then opened an agency in Geneva to follow-up with the process. Modules were developed to train activists and trainers, in order to allow different DPOs to advertise the Convention at national level and to advocate towards States for its ratification. This requires specific skills to carry out such a work in 209 countries and it still goes on nowadays. The key-word has become to strengthen national capacities, and this is where the nice text of the Convention turns into a useful one.
Alexandre Cote was organizing a training module in Belgrade, Serbia as part of the Share-SEE project. He came to me and explained that they were looking for a text that would bring together both the International Disability Caucus’ suggestions and a more general human rights background. As he asked me if I could write this text, I started to work on it and covered the treaty’s first 32 articles – the substantial articles – for the training that was taking place in Belgrade. I remember, during the training, Zvonko Shavreskii of Polio-Plus, Macedonia, loudly complained that the text only covered the treaty up to Article 32, and asking why other articles and the whole Convention were not discussed as well. So, Alex and I decided to add the technical, operational articles and as a result to address the whole Treaty. Later, Ron McCallum, who had been one of my university teachers, was nominated as a candidate for the CRPD committee. I sent him a couple of texts so that he could get himself acquainted with the treaty, adding the text from the Belgrade workshop. He came back to me saying that this was the best text available on the Convention, and that I should get it published. So, I approached Alex, we gave it another push, and then printed some 200 copies for the Third conference of State Parties in September 2010. Parts of this text have been translated into Arabic and Russian. Handicap International made a translation into French possible, and the Chinese translation is about to be published.
Coming back from New York, I still had good relations with the foreign ministry. As ratification was in the hands of the foreign ministry and the social ministry, I pushed the social ministry to send representatives to the last Ad Hoc Committee. We worked together with other organizations towards ratification. This required strong efforts. Together with Handicap International, we translated the Convention into Indonesian and submitted it to the National Commission on Human Rights. The Convention was eventually ratified in 2011.
Setia Adi Purwanta
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