Guest editor of UN News’ first live blog takeover: Global Issues


This will happen on the opening day of the 17th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP17) to the landmark Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will take place from 11 to 13 June 2024.

From delegate at COSP16 to takeover UN newsIn his live blog at COSP17, the activist with Down syndrome said his mission is to amplify voices and create change, including on this year’s themes: jobs, technology and humanitarian responses in times of crisis.

Here’s more from our guest editor ahead of COSP17:

“What I’m most looking forward to is connecting with others and meeting other people who care about the same things as I do. Last year I made new friends and shared stories, which was really cool.

I also look forward to accessibility and inclusivity. One thing that really stood out to me last year was how everyone talked about making things easier for people with disabilities. It was great to see so many people committed to making the world a better place for us.

I am from Canada and am passionate about disability rights. I am part of the L’Arche community in Toronto. L’Arche has nearly 160 communities in 37 countries around the world and promotes inclusive relationships in which people with and without intellectual disabilities improve each other’s lives.

Jobs, technology and humanitarian crises

This year, the focus at COSP17 is on technology, jobs and humanitarian crises, viewed through the lens of people with disabilities. Technology is changing the way we live and work, and this is no different for people with disabilities.

We’ll discuss how technological advances can create new opportunities and support for individuals like us. From accessibility features on smartphones to tools in the workplace, technology has the power to level the playing field and improve our lives.

Unfortunately, conflicts and wars around the world disproportionately affect people with disabilities, and I have seen first-hand the challenges individuals in L’Arche communities face in conflict zones. COSP17 will shed light on these issues and advocate for better support and protection for those affected by conflict.

When it comes to jobs, finding and keeping work can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for people with disabilities. Discrimination, lack of accessibility and stigma are just some of the obstacles we face. Through discussions we will work on solutions to improve employment opportunities and ensure equal rights for all.

These issues are important to me, and so is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

How technology helps me as a person with a disability

Technology plays a crucial role in improving my life as a person with a disability, allowing me to connect, communicate and understand information more easily and independently. Here’s how:

Stay connected: Technology allows me to stay connected to friends, family and the world around me. Whether it’s through social media, video calls or messaging apps, I can stay in touch wherever I am. You can even follow me on Instagram!

Better communication: Technology tools like speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and communication apps make it easier for me to communicate. They make it easier for me to express myself and understand others, whether I’m chatting with friends or participating in meetings. For example, I’ll be using WhatsApp to stay connected with our L’Arche team while I’m here at COSP17 in New York City.

Understanding information: Technology helps me understand information. Tools such as screen readers, magnifying glasses, and accessible websites allow me to access and understand information more effectively, allowing me to learn, work, and participate in various activities.

3 Ways Work Has Changed My Life

As a person with a disability, work is important. The most important thing is that you are involved.

My animated film Free Bird was longlisted for an Academy Award in 2021. It was a big deal. It showed that people with disabilities can also be in the spotlight. Working on the film as creative director was a highlight of my career.

Collaboration is also crucial. Collaboration is key in my acting performances. By working with others, we can all come up with better ideas and make great things happen.

Just as important is that I can express myself. As an artist and freelancer, having a job means I can bring my unique perspective to the table. I can be myself and show what I can do, which is pretty cool.

Dignity and disability

Every person deserves to feel safe and respected in their lives. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, whether you have a disability or not – being treated poorly is never okay. Whether at school, work or elsewhere, bullying, abuse and neglect should never be tolerated.

In difficult times such as emergencies, disasters or wars, it is very important that governments do everything they can to keep us safe. They have to follow the rules of the world to make sure everything is okay.

It is crucial to remember that no one should ever be forgotten or left out. We all have the right to be protected and valued.

Human rights for everyone

Why are humanitarian rights important to me as a person with a disability? Human rights are not just words on paper; they are essential for people like me to live fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to society. I can think of three reasons why.

Getting the help I need: Humanitarian rights ensure that I have access to essential resources and support services, such as healthcare, education, jobs and resources tailored to my needs, allowing me to live with dignity and independence.

The feeling of being included: These rights promote inclusivity by fighting against discrimination based on disability. They ensure fair treatment for everyone and combat stereotypes and stigmatization. Humanitarian rights make society more hospitable and everyone’s contribution is valued.

Speaking for change: When it comes to conflict, we know that people with disabilities are more affected in wars. As part of L’Arche, we have communities in places like Haiti, Bethlehem and Ukraine who experience this. Belonging to the supportive community of De Ark gives us solidarity, strength and resilience to come together in these difficult times. With the support of humanitarian rights, we can ensure that people with disabilities are not forgotten when times get tough.

Rights and opportunities

Living a life with dignity means having all the rights that make us human. Everyone should have the right to make choices for themselves, such as what they want to do or where they want to go. We all deserve a safe place to call home and enough food to eat every day.

COSP17 starts on Tuesday at UN Headquarters.

United Nations

COSP17 starts on Tuesday at UN Headquarters.

Communication is also super important! It’s critical that people talk to us in a way we understand. In this way we can express ourselves and be understood by others. And it’s not just about talking. Everyone should have the same opportunities to get health care, go to school, and find a job he or she loves.

Governments play a huge role in ensuring the protection of these rights, and it is so important that our voices are heard. People with disabilities deserve the support they need to live happy and fulfilling lives.

COSP is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has a fair chance in life. It is a place where change for the better can be created.

Let’s work together to ensure everyone gets the rights and opportunities we deserve.

See you on June 11th, then I’ll take the UN news liveblog. We go live at 8am. I hope you’ll join us!”

Stay informed UN newshere.

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