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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We're making more fertiliser! A mix of whey, molasses, milk, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins... this is microbiology in action. As Cata tells the team: these microorganisms are offering their life, to give more life!

This fertiliser will eventually be used to regenerate the soil where our delicious coffee grows.

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Support this project by donating or purchase your TLF coffee today: www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out/

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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Follow the recent 7.4 earthquake in Oaxaca, our team sprung into action to assist their neighbours. Thanks to the generous donations from supporters in Aotearoa New Zealand, the team were able to purchase building supplies to help fix structural damage. Here they are delivering materials to local families, which will be used to reconstruct homes. The local children were very happy to help too!

Thank you for your ongoing support. Without your donations, we could not do what we do. To donate to TLF, head to: www.thelucyfoundation.com/donate/

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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

A lovely wee surprise to wake up to today...

TLF's Robbie Francis Watene has been named one of 30 global disability rights activists on Diversability’s D-30 Disability Impact List.

The list celebrates 30 years of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and Robbie's nomination was chosen from over 400 submissions. More information about the list and honourees is available at: mydiversability.com/d30

#D30DisList #Diversability #PlumaCoffeeProject #DisabilityEmployment #DisabilityInclusion #DisabilityRights #TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #DisabilityRightsMonitoring #UNCRPD

[Image description: On a black background with gold confetti sprinkled from the top, gold block text at the top, “The D-30 Disability Impact List.” Below, a gold bar with text in black, “2020 Honoree.” Below, a photo of Robbie next to her name in white and their country in a gold bar. In the bottom corner, the Diversability logo in white and the hashtag #D30DisList. In the photo Robbie sits with her legs crossed. She is wearing black, has a red head scarf, and a brightly coloured Lucy Leg (prosthetic) and shoes.]
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