The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), through its Department of Health and Social Affairs, is conducting a consultation on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the capital Pohnpei this week, for relevant government representatives and civil society organisations.
The three-day consultation aims to develop the skills and knowledge of relevant stakeholders on the convention and is being supported by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in collaboration with Australian Aid and the European Union.
“The training is a very timely event particularly as the Department of Health and Social Affairs is preparing to submit a resolution on the ratification of the CRPD to the 4th Regular Session of the 19th Congress Sitting of the FSM Government that will be held in September,” FSM National Disability Coordinator, Stuard Penias, said.
The FSM Government signed the CRPD in September, 2011 and is proceeding with plans for ratification this year. The main purpose of the CRPD is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.”
A resolution for ratification was submitted to congress in 2013 which was tabled to allow consultations with the states to get their input and support. Since then, each of the four FSM States - Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap - have passed CRPD ratification resolution during various legislature sittings.
According to Mr Penias, the FSM Government endorsed a National Policy on Disability which identifies priority areas for action to promote societal awareness, and inclusion of persons with disabilities, including identification of their needs and opportunities.
“It is very important that FSM joins the rest of world in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities and to improve the livelihoods of persons with disabilities. FSM is also fortunate to get the assistance of SPC in this worthy endeavour,” Mr Penias said.
Topics that will be covered during the consultation include Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Non Discrimination and Equality including Reasonable Accommodation, Understanding the different articles of the CRPD, CRPD in practise and Monitoring and Implementation of the CRPD.
“The CRPD is one of the quickest ratified treaties in the Pacific with 10 Pacific Community members having either ratified or acceded to this Disability Convention after it was adopted in 2006 and came into force in 2008,” SPC Regional Rights Resource Team Director, Mark Atterton said.
“SPC will continue to support the FSM Government as ratification of the CRPD is significant for FSM and its population with disabilities,” Mr Atterton added.
The President of Pohnpei Consumer Organisation, Nelbert Perez, stated that the ratification of the CRPD by Pacific Island countries shows the commitment of Pacific governments towards persons with disabilities in the region.
“Persons with disabilities in the Pacific face numerous challenges which hinder their full and effective participation in their various communities. The ratification of the CRPD allows our governments to take stock of provisions to safeguard rights and identify gaps in order to allow persons with disabilities access to the same opportunities as everyone else,” Mr Perez said.
The CRPD consultation concludes on 4 August.