The President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Mr. Coly Seck, has appointed Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, as the Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Task Force on Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.

This appointment as Chair of the Task Force is a testament to Fiji’s strong leadership at the global stage, as a Member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and its important role as the Vice-President of the Council.  It also demonstrates the recognition of Fiji’s input into international policy making institutions.

The Task Force was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) through a resolution in 2011 and it’s composed of the UNHRC Bureau, which includes the President and Vice-Presidents of the Council. It also includes representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and representatives of the United Nations Office in Geneva. 

The role of the Task Force is centered on ensuring accessibly to the Council and to make strategic recommendations on enhancing the Council’s accessibility for persons living with disabilities. As Chair of the Task Force, Ambassador Khan is committed to securing maximum support for the Task Force in its objectives to advance the interests of persons living with disability.

Ambassador Khan said that through the work of the Task Force, Fiji will have a stronger voice in terms of advocating for the rights of persons living with disabilities. It will also strengthen accessibility mechanisms domestically through an effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.  She will also work closely with Fiji’s Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in reaching out to empower persons living with disabilities in Fiji.  

In its first meeting, the Task Force looked at the proposed 2019 work plan which outlines priority areas related to actions to address existing barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in the work of the Council.  It also provided participants with an excellent opportunity to engage and contribute to the work of the Task Force. 

As Chair of the Task Force, Ambassador Khan will work closely with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms Catalina Devandas and experts from the Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promptly enhance the accessibility of the Council’s buildings and meetings to persons living with disabilities.

Ambassador Khan will also hold a number of meetings throughout the year to take stock and evaluate the work of the Task Force in building an inclusive and supportive environment for persons with disabilities.

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