President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins Addresses International Disability Conference at NUI Galway

Monday, 18 June 2012

Pictured at the fourth International Disability Conference at NUI Galway from left: Professor Gerard Quinn, Director, Centre for Disability Law and Policy; President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins; and NUI Galway's President, Dr Jim Browne.
Pictured at the fourth International Disability Conference at NUI Galway from left: Professor Gerard Quinn, Director, Centre for Disability Law and Policy; President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins; and NUI Galway's President, Dr Jim Browne.

The fourth International Summer School at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, was launched today (Monday, 18 June) by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. The Summer School, co-hosted by the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, will run from 18-23 June.

Speaking at the Summer School, President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins commended the University for their active scholarship and the Centre of Disability Law and Policy for the vital contribution it makes to informed thinking on disability related policy and issues in this country: “I am delighted to be here with you today to launch the 4th International Summer School in partnership with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, which this year deals with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"This, as you know, is a convention that I strongly support and which, as a public representative, I called upon successive Governments to ratify. This summer school and the other educational opportunities that you afford to students will educate them in the policies and reforms required to ensure that people with disabilities can be treated as Equal Citizens in Irish Society and that once ratified the requirements of the Convention will become the benchmark for all disability related policies.”

The Summer School is designed to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to translate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into tangible reform for persons with disabilities. President Higgins has a great interest in disability issues and has been a tireless campaigner throughout his long political life for the rights and interests of persons with disabilities in Ireland and internationally.

The teaching faculty for the School includes high profile senior academics, practitioners and policy makers from around the world who have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the Convention. The estimated 100 attendees will similarly be from around the world and will include people with disabilities, their families, representatives from civil society groups as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers and policy analysts.

The School is directed by Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the School of Law, NUI Galway along with and Professor Michael Stein of Harvard Law School. Professor Quinn is a co-drafter of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and internationally recognised as a leader in the field of advancing the right of disabled people.

Professor Gerard Quinn said: “This Summer School is all about power – restoring power to persons with disabilities over their own lives and giving them knowledge and skills based on the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Above all the School belongs to the people affected and is structured in such a way as to enable people explore for themselves the relevance of the Convention in their own lives and in the process of change.”

Speaking at the event, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, welcomed visitors and delegates from 29 different countries: “I know of the deep links between Harvard and our Centre for Disability Law and Policy and am delighted to acknowledge this wonderful, continuing collaboration at this the fourth International Summer School held by the Centre.

“The impact of this Summer School is truly global. The faculty and speakers include experts who were active in drafting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as leading thought-leaders from around the world. This Summer School serves to give delegates the tools to implement this very important treaty and is a wonderful example of scholarship in action.”

Further information, including the programme and speaker profiles is available from the Summer School website at: http://www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp/summer_school/2012/welcome.html

On the last day of Summer School, Saturday, 23 June, the Centre for Disability Law and Policy will also host a one day international conference Mental Health Law Reform: New Perspectives and Challenges. This event will be held in conjunction with Amnesty International and will examine issues relevant to the review Mental Health Act 2001 including Ireland’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as it moves towards ratification.

The conference is aimed at experts by experience, legal practitioners, mental health professionals, advocates, academics, policy makers, politicians, NGOs and any person or organisation interested in mental health law and policy.

Keywords: Law

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway, NUI Galway
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