Image of the UN building in NYC - flags of all nations in foreground.

The 16th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (COSP16) took place June 13-15th 2023 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, bringing together more than 120 country delegations and hundreds of national and international human rights institutions and civil society organizations to discuss progress on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Canada ratified the CRPD in 2010, which commits the federal government to work to realize all of the rights and protections outlined in the articles of the Convention.


Since 2008, the United Nations organizes COSP annually to fulfill one of the commitments of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 40 of the Convention says “the States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.”

Held under the theme ‘Harmonizing national policies and strategies with the CRPD: achievements and challenges’, COSP16 focused on the sub-themes of sexual and reproductive health, digital accessibility, and reaching under-represented groups of persons with disabilities. 

Read the Easy-to-Understand Overview of the Conference of States Parties (COSP).

Civil Society Forum & UN Meeting on Easy to Understand Communication

A highlight of COSP is the Civil Society Forum, held this year the day before COSP16 on June 12th. During the Civil Society Forum, the international disability community has the opportunity to discuss priorities with Member States, UN bodies, and each other. This year’s forum focused on sharing experiences on the implementation of the CRPD and exploring what emerging issues persons with disabilities are facing across the globe.

Also on June 12th, the United Nations General Assembly held a meeting on a new resolution on Easy To Understand Communication, supported by Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International.

Read more about this resolution and the UN General Assembly in this article by Inclusion International.

You can also watch the half day meeting at this link. The recording is available in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and International Sign Language. Inclusion Canada was proud to support Dewlyn Lobo, President of People First of Canada, to address the General Assembly on behalf on the Canadian civil society delegation.

Alt text: Picture of Dewlyn Lobo, President, People First of Canada. Text reads “It is important that no one is left behind. We deserve to be included. Governments cannot make the CRPD work without people with intellectual disabilities.”

Inclusion Canada’s Delegation

Inclusion Canada’s delegation to COSP included Robin Acton, Krista Carr, Kurt Goddard, and Tara Levandier.

Board President Robin Acton addressed the UN General Assembly, encouraging all nations to support the full inclusion of people with an intellectual disability and their families in society and calling attention to Canada’s expansion of medical assistance in dying. Watch Robin here:

Tara Levandier, Executive Director, Operations & Social Impact, presented Inclusion Canada’s work on easy to understand communications on an international panel titled Easy to Understand Communication for Accessibility: Good Practices and Recommendations, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Poland.

In addition to attending the General Debate, Roundtable Discussions, and side sessions of the general programme, the Inclusion Canada delegation also met with the Honourable Bob Rae, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations to discuss international priorities; attended a reception hosted by the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, and the Government of Canada delegation, including Krista Wilcox, Director General, Office for Disability Issues; attended a reception with our international federation members hosted by Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International; met with the Canadian civil society delegation to discuss Canada’s Parallel Report on the CRPD due out later this year; and, met with several CRPD Committee members to discuss our strategic priority areas with respect to implementing the CRPD in Canada. 

To see more about our work at the UN during COSP, including photos, videos, and quotes from participants, check out our Twitter feed or search #COSP16.