What are you most proud of in your work & why?
I’m proud of my work on the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities both being part of the development of the Convention during the negotiations and now as Vice Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the implementation of monitoring. The convention provides the normative legal standards to address discrimination and inequality, and these standards need to be integral addressing the inequality experienced by people with disability. It challenges the way we think and respond to disability and provides a roadmap for transformation so people with disability can participate in the community on an equal basis with others.
Thinking about the future in the light of the impacts the pandemic, what do you hope for? And what do you fear for?
The pandemic exposed the heightened vulnerability of groups within our society due to existing inequality and discrimination. These groups were the people who bore the brunt of the pandemic’s impact. My hope for the future is that international human rights law frames our recovery measures by adopting a human rights approach. A human rights approach is critical to response and recovery efforts not only in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to ensure that states take action now to build equitable, sustainable and resilient societies that have the mechanisms to prevent and respond rapidly to future public health emergencies and to ensure that no one is left behind.
I fear the rise of authoritarian states and the rise of nationalism, but mainly I fear the rise of systems that are intolerant to difference. It has been the intolerance of difference that devalued and demeaned those with impairments that has left people with disability institutionalised, isolated and excluded.