From AI to war zones, UN hosts largest global meeting on disability issues

Welcome to this first ever guest-edited UN News live page. We’re reporting from the opening day of the 17th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP17) to the game-changing Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Our blogger-in-chief this morning is Nick Herd, an activist, actor and talk show host with Down syndrome whose mission is to amplify voices and drive change.


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UN News/ Nick Herd at #COSP16

Welcome to the first ever UN News live page takeover by a guest editor. People from around the world are gathering at UN Headquarters to take part in the largest global meeting on issues that affect people with disabilities.

Activist, actor and talk show host Nick Herd led the UN News team for the opening day of the 17th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP17) to the game-changing Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, taking place from 11 to 13 June 2024. 

Part of his mission is to amplify voices and drive change, so join us as Nick offers invaluable insights into the ongoing dialogue surrounding disability rights and inclusive communities and meets change makers from around the world to find out how best to boost inclusivity in tech, jobs and aid efforts in times of war and climate disasters.

Guest editor: Nick Herd. Live blogging by Eileen Travers. Produced by Steve De Caul, Daniel Dickinson, Victor Evans-Harvey and Shanae Harte.

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Today 07:59 AM

What are delegates saying about #COSP17?

Community is our most powerful resource, where human diversity is celebrated. Real friends and allies welcome one another, travel through life together and learn from one another. Together, we can change the world!

When we come together as a community, amazing things happen. We learn from each other, grow together and make the world a better place. Let’s keep supporting each other, celebrating diversity and working together to create a brighter future for everyone. Because there is still a lot of work to be done and together, we can work towards a world where everyone belongs.

That’s why I talked with some #COSP17 delegates to find out what they’re thinking.Today 07:38 AM

ICYMI: Day One of #COSP17

Here’s how you can follow the rest of #COSP17:

Today 07:24 AM

NICK’S NOTES: A final word 

Here are some of my thoughts about today at COSP17 and taking on a new role at UN News. My favorite part about being the guest editor was directing people! I enjoyed coordinating everyone. I’m firm, but I’m fair.

I liked it so much, I would never want to retire from that position. I definitely want to be a guest editor again.Today 03:12 AM

And that’s a wrap for our live blog!

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The opening session of #COSP17 has just ended. Thank you for joining us for this live blog takeover by me, Nick Herd!Today 03:01 AM

How accessible is the UN?

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UN Photo/Manuel Elias

We visited the Accessibility Centre at UN Headquarters ahead of the opening session of COSP17. Here’s what we found:

  • Assistive tools & technologies for persons with visual, audio & mobility impairments
  • Computer stations with assistive devices such as desktop magnifiers
  • Wheelchair charging provisions at various locations in the conference facilities
  • Assistance on how to use the devices, which is available at the counter

Today 02:51 AM

Imagine a world where every limit becomes an obstacle, where public transport remains out of reach, & where social events feel like distant dreams. For millions of perosns with disabilities, this isn’t imagination; it’s their harsh reality. — Khadija Jallouli, Youth Rep #COSP17

3 ways employment changed my life

As a person with a disability, jobs matter. What’s most important is being included.

My animated film Freebird was long-listed for an Academy Award in 2021. It was a big deal. It showed that people with disabilities can shine in the spotlight too. Working on the film as a creative director was a highlight of my career.

Working together is also crucial. Collaboration is key in my acting gigs. Working with others helps us all come up with better ideas and make great things happen.

Equally important is being able to express myself. As an artist and freelancer, having a job means I can bring my unique perspective to the table. It lets me be myself and show what I can do, which is pretty awesome.

My friend and fellow Canadian, Maureen Haan is President and CEO of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work. She told me helping people with disabilities to find jobs begins with recognising that people like me have talent to offer.Today 02:39 AM

CHANGE MAKER: Amir Tamang from Nepal

Meet Amir Tamang, a young artist who does not have the use of his arms and legs. He paints and writes poetry using his mouth.

After the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, his house was unsafe, and he had to live in a tent. There, he was identified by UNICEF partner Karuna Foundation which helped him realise his dreams.Today 02:28 AM

Advocates and ambassadors

These meetings are an important opportunity for all of us to learn more about living with disabilities. I sat down with Rytis Paulauskas, Lithuania’s Ambassador to the UN, to learn why he thinks COSP is a critical gathering for advocates as well as diplomats. Today 02:24 AM

‘Nothing about us without us’

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Some of the delegates are talking about the institutionalisation of people with disabilities. The First Lady of Guyana, Arya Ali, spoke about schools and people that are institutionalised in institutions being treated poorly. She spoke about how we can build a better future for and with them.

And that goes back to our expression “nothing about us without us.”