On November 30th, at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) States Parties will elect 9 of the 18 members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the independent body of experts entrusted with the international monitoring of that Convention.
The CRPD sets the criteria for the Committee’s composition that States Parties must consider. According to Article 34(4) of the CRPD, States must consider “equitable geographical distribution, representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities.”
However, gender representation within the committee has been extremely low. In 2017 and 2018, the Committee was composed of 17 men and only 1 woman, the lowest representation of women the Committee has ever had. At that time, the GQUAL Campaign, IDA and IDDC called on States Parties to address gender parity on the Committee through the 2018 nomination and election procedures.
States Parties responded to that call, and in June 2018, States Parties elected 6 women to the Committee, whose mandates will run until 2022. However, gender parity has not been fully achieved, as the current composition of the CRPD is of 6 women out of 18 members.
The upcoming elections provide a unique opportunity to fully achieve gender parity in the CRPD Committee if three women are elected. Therefore, the GQUAL Campaign, IDA and IDDC are issuing this call to States Parties to the CRPD to use their 2020 vote to select at least three female candidates in order to achieve and sustain gender parity and meet the obligations of the CRPD.
In addition, the GQUAL Campaign, IDA and IDDC call on States Parties to take into account other relevant criteria of Article 34(4) of the CRPD when voting, in particular to promote the representation of the diversity of disability constituencies and the equitable geographical representation.
States Parties are responsible for ensuring that the Committee’s composition complies with the CRPD criteria. They now have the opportunity to strengthen the Committee’s function, impact, and legitimacy.