Blog: Erin takes on NY (and the UN!)

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to travel to the United Nations in New York for the tenth annual Conference of States Parties (also known as COSP). The conference brings together advocates, academics and government representatives from around the world to discuss progress on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (or the CRPD).

Every year, there are a wide range of topics discussed that fit within three themes. This year, those were:

  • “Leaving No-One Behind”: Addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination within the disability community
  • Situations of Risk and Humanitarian Emergencies
  • Inclusive Urban Development and Implementation of the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III)

Some of the discussion on these themes took place in one big group, General Assembly style, but parallel to this, there were more than 50 90-minute side sessions on different topics. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to get to all of them, but I attended sessions about disabled women’s rights, mental health, disaster risk management in the Asia Pacific region, barriers faced by young people with disabilities and ensuring access to justice and equality before the law.

While these sessions are interesting in themselves, a real highlight of participating was getting the opportunity to contribute my own human rights expertise and experience and interacting with very knowledgeable people. For example, I got to ask the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Canadian Minister of Disability Issues, how more disabled people can be encouraged to go into politics, and I got to share my experience of the Christchurch earthquakes and the subsequent rebuild at another session.

Another highlight was getting to read a three-minute statement to the plenary on behalf of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, who I work for.

In it, I called on governments and civil society organisations to listen to the voices of young disabled people as the generation inheriting the world in its current state. I said that I expect the world will be better tomorrow because of the work we do today.

I think this resonates well with the mission of The Lucy Foundation (TLF). At its core, the Foundation is a group of young people trying to make the world better through sustainable trade alongside many other groups. Founder Robbie was hoping to also attend COSP, but unfortunately had to wait for TLF to be accredited before she could do so.

Now that that has happened, I’m excited about the contribution TLF can make to future COSPs. Discussion of social enterprise, sustainable trade and the involvement of people with disabilities didn’t really feature this year, but is a real emerging area in business and human rights to which TLF and others could add real value.

Bring on COSP 2018!


Erin Gough is a Human Rights Specialist at New Zealand Human Rights Commission in Wellington, New Zealand. She has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), Human Rights Laws, from the University of Canterbury and is also on The Lucy Foundation Board of Trustees. 


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And the sorting begins....

Each family is paid by the weight of the coffee they sort, meaning they can take as much or as little time as needed. Some family members are fast, some family members are slower, but when they work together they get it done!

"Today we started selecting the coffee. Pepe, Juan and Doña Victoria helped us, carefully inspecting each grain with love and joy. These meetings are where we learn and talk, and where everyone shares their story of the day." - Cata

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Do you have a laptop you no longer want or need? In a few weeks Ryan Sanders will be returning to Mexico, and we want to send a laptop with him to give to Cata and the crew. At the moment they are using a phone for all their updates, research, budgets, and admin. A laptop would make such a difference!

If you can help, flick us an email on [email protected]

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[Image description: crossed legs next to an open laptop on the floor.]
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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

The next step of our process is to weigh and allocate 'gold coffee' to each family we partner with. A key aspect of our business model is ensuring people with and without disabilities have the opportunity to work together on shared tasks such as sorting coffee - we believe this is one of the best ways to dismantle ableist attitudes.

Of course, delivering bags of gold coffee around the village is thirsty work, so the team stopped by our friend Rosie's cafe - La boveda del cafe pluma hidalgo - for a coffee when they were done!

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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

While us Kiwis have spent the summer enjoying 2019's Pluma coffee, over in Mexico a fresh crop of coffee cherries has been picked and dried, and is now being processed by the disabled people we employ, together with their families. Over the next couple of weeks the team wants share their process with us using photos.

First step: remove the outer husk from the coffee seed. "The retrilla process is where a special machine removes the parchment to free the seed or kernel, resulting in 'gold coffee'. Our team will then sort through the gold coffee to select the best beans for shipment to New Zealand. In these pictures you can see Juanito placing the parchment into the retrilla machine, and showing you how gold coffee turns out after this process." - Cata

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