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    What’s going on at COSP17?

    They are gathering at the largest global disability rights-focused meeting, known as the 17th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or COSP17, which runs from 11 to 13 June.

    Their aim is to ensure that countries are keeping their word to guarantee equality for all.

    AI to war zones: Here’s what’s on the agenda

    UN Member States and NGOs get to present report cards on challenges and success stories and offer new ways to remove remaining barriers so people living with disabilities can fully enjoy all rights.

    Since the Convention’s adoption in 2008, COSP has convened annually to monitor the implementation of the landmark treaty signed by 191 UN Member States.

    This year’s agenda includes three roundtable discussions on current issues that will feed into the Summit of the Future in September. They centre on international cooperation on humanitarian emergencies, decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods and technology innovations for an inclusive future.

    Participants at a UNDP-supported innovative programme in Egypt to empower people with disabilities using technology. (file)

    Digital transformation

    Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools can scan websites, mobile apps and other digital content to identify accessibility issues and offer recommendations for remediation, helping developers and content creators in ensuring that their products are accessible to individuals with disabilities from the design phase to technology upgrades.

    And that’s just AI. The potential of digital transformation for persons with disabilities is well known and widespread, said Heba Hagrass, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities

    That potential for innovation includes availability of assistive devices, inclusive education and access to employment, healthcare, personalised support systems and information and communication tools.

    “Digital transformation can be harnessed to help realise the paradigm shift brought about by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, restoring the voice, control and choice of persons with disabilities as active members of their communities,” she said.

    COSP17 will focus on efforts to promote technology innovations and transfer towards the social inclusion and empowerment of individuals with disabilities from classrooms to the workplace.

    Check out some innovations at the recent AI for Global Good Summit:

    Building inclusive job markets

    Getting into the job market can be a huge challenge.

    Eighty per cent of the world’s people with disabilities live in developing countries, and the rights to decent work and sustainable livelihoods are well recognised in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key internationally agreed development instruments like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Right now, the global report card on jobs shows mixed progress. While there are new laws alongside national business and disability networks in countries such as Argentina, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Uruguay, more needs to be done.

    That’s why COSP17 is set to present a range of solutions based on tried and tested efforts that are seeing more people living with disabilities contributing to their families, society and development efforts in countries around the world.

    Nicole Mesén Sojo, a municipal councillor in San José, Costa Rica, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, is an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. (file)

    UN Costa Rica/Abril Morales

    Nicole Mesén Sojo, a municipal councillor in San José, Costa Rica, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, is an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. (file)

    Humanitarian emergencies

    What happens when you can’t hear the bombs in a war zone or can’t move your wheelchair to evacuate from a flood?

    In situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, such as armed conflict, natural and climate-driven disasters and health emergencies, people living with disabilities are all too often left on the margins when planning for preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

    Indeed, more than a dozen Human Rights Council-appointed experts warned in joint statement on the current crisis in Gaza that “persons with disabilities are at higher risk of communicable diseases, malnutrition and death, all of which become increasingly likely as Gaza’s civilian infrastructure collapses.”

    COSP17 will focus on new innovative efforts that are working and challenges and solutions, from climate-related disasters to conflict, that can drive forward the Summit of the Future towards more inclusive societies.

    Eight-year-old Hanaa, who was paralysed by an exploding bomb and lost the use of her legs, sits in her wheelchair near her home in East Aleppo City, Syria. (file)

    Eight-year-old Hanaa, who was paralysed by an exploding bomb and lost the use of her legs, sits in her wheelchair near her home in East Aleppo City, Syria. (file)

    Making history at COSP17: Live blog takeover

    The first ever UN News live blog takeover by a guest editor is happening on 11 June as people from around the world gather at UN Headquarters to take part in the largest global meeting on issues that affect people with disabilities.

    Covering the opening session of COSP17, the live page will be led by guest editor Nick Herd, an activist, actor, talk show host and COSP17 delegate from L’ Arche Canada, an NGO that’s part of a network of 160 communities in 37 countries for people with intellectual disabilities.

    From being a delegate at COSP16 to taking over UN News’s live blog at this year’s COSP17, the advocate with Down syndrome will be offering invaluable insights into the ongoing dialogue surrounding disability rights and inclusive communities. He’ll also be interviewing delegates and change makers from around the world to find out how best to boost inclusivity in tech, jobs and aid efforts in times of war and climate disasters. His mission is to amplify voices and drive change.

    The blog goes live at 8am on 11 June. Stay tuned to UN News here, and follow the hashtag #COSP17 on social media.

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