Building on Two Decades of Success
The idea to found DPI was germinated at the 1980 World Congress of Rehabilitation International, which was also held in Winnipeg. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is the Canadian member of DPI. CCD and DPI share the same motto, a voice of our own. CCD’s vice-chairperson, Mary Ennis, sits on the DPI World Council.
At the opening plenary, Jim Derksen, a past chairperson of CCD and one of the original founders of DPI, reminded the delegates that “the world where DPI was conceived was a different world than the one we live in now. Organizations of professional rehabilitation-oriented persons, both governmental and private sector, together with officials of charitable philanthropic service providers, had the only voice and influence. Organizations of persons with disabilities had little credibility or profile.”
DPI helped to change the way government leaders view organizations of persons with disabilities. Among the many milestones in the development of DPI was the achievement of consultant status with UN organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Marie White commented in her plenary address, “We are here as part of an effort to create space for under-represented groups in our global disability rights movement because, to date, neither our groups and associations nor our societies are sufficiently inclusive of women with disabilities, indigenous persons with disabilities, Arab persons with disabilities, youth with disabilities.
“When the summit concludes and we return to our own groups and countries, we need to initiate reform that will make inclusion a reality for all,” stated Ms. White.
The International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities is an initiative that the global disability rights movement has been advancing in support of inclusion. The DPI summit provided a thorough examination of work to date on the convention.
Delegates had the opportunity to hear from consumers and UN ambassadors engaged in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. The Ad Hoc Committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Luis Gallegos of Ecuador, met in New York in its fourth session from August 23 to September 4, 2004. During a plenary session, Ambassador Gallegos told delegates the convention would clarify the content of human rights principles and their application to persons with disabilities.
Steve Estey, chairperson of CCD’s International Development Committee, was a member of the Canadian delegation, participating in the work of the fourth session. During the DPI summit, Mr. Estey conducted a plenary session on monitoring mechanisms.
While the organizations of people with disabilities have an important role to play in the development of an inclusive society, governments have a paramount responsibility to invest in measures that will create an inclusive society. During the conference, DPI Chairperson Venus Ilagan repeatedly called upon international aid agencies to invest in the work of DPI.
Marie White addressed the following comments to elected and appointed officials in attendance at the DPI World Summit: “To those of you here who are elected government officials and those who are involved in the bureaucratic processes for creating and implementing public policy, I urge you to remember that persons with disabilities are impacted by your public policy decisions. As a former deputy mayor of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and as a woman with a disability, I know this to be true. So, when representatives of disability organizations seek meetings and collaborative efforts with you – please engage.
“I believe that your work in the governmental sector will be greatly improved if you work with your disability community on the development of a disability lens that will help to ensure that public policy is both inclusive of people with disabilities and respectful of the diversity in our communities.”
Contact CCD at (204) 947-0303 (voice/TTY), or visit www.ccdonline.ca.