Morris appointed Caricom special rapporteur on disability

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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OPPOSITION Senator Dr Floyd Morris yesterday said that he was “excited and humbled” to be appointed the Caribbean Community's (Caricom) Special Rapporteur on Disability.

Morris, the director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, was nominated by a Caricom national and selected from a pool of four people.

Morris, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview, said he will now actively lobby regional heads to implement programmes and policies for persons with disabilities.

“This is to ensure that we have an inclusive and participatory Caribbean for persons with disabilities. This is going to be supported by the Declaration of Pétion-Ville, which was formulated in 2013 by the regional governments coming out of Haiti. It has some clear objectives and I will be working with Caricom and the disabled community to ensure that these things are realised,” Morris said.

The declaration is the commitment given by regional governments to address, with renewed energy and dedication, the development of legal frameworks at the national level to give effect to the commitments made through their adherence to international and regional instruments to promote and protect the rights and needs of persons with disabilities.

Governments vowed to continue efforts being made to build inclusive societies, for both present and future generations, and recognise the important contribution, both existing and potential, that persons with disabilities can make towards enriching the diversity of societies.

“I'd still be based here in Jamaica at The University of the West Indies... but all of this is tied and linked into that particular institution,” he said.

Caricom yesterday announced that it had appointed Dr Morris to the position, as it works towards an inclusive region for persons with disabilities.

In a statement, the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat said that the Council for Human and Social Development – Health, in September this year, endorsed the recommendation that Dr Morris be appointed and “urged ministries of health to facilitate the special rapporteur in the conduct of his duties at the national level”.

Morris, who holds a doctorate in Government with special focus on political communication, has done extensive research on persons with disabilities in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

He led the negotiations for Jamaica at the United Nations on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities between 2002 and 2006 and eventually signed and ratified the Convention in 2007, enabling Jamaica to be the first country in the world to do so.

“The Caricom special rapporteur on disabilities will monitor and assess the implementation of the Pétion-Ville Declaration, in an effort to advance progress towards a disability-inclusive society for all in Caricom member states,” the secretariat noted.

Globally, one of the largest vulnerable populations comprise persons with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization, “over a billion people, about 15 per cent of the world's population, have some form of disability; between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning and rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in chronic health conditions among other causes”.

— Kimone Francis

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