Canada has by no means had a voice on the UN’s disability committee. Meet the authorized scholar tapped to vary that

A law professor from the University of Windsor could be the first person to represent Canada on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The federal government announced last week that Canada has nominated Laverne Jacobs, a disability lawyer and legal scholar, as a candidate for the committee.

The 18-person body is made up of experts from all over the world. If Jacobs is elected at a conference next June, she would take on a four-year term.

Jacobs, who joined CBC Radio’s Windsor Morning Monday, said she was “honorable and humble” to have been selected.

Listen to the full interview below:

Windsor morning8:16UN Disability Candidate

One of Windsor’s most respected university professors has been nominated for a prestigious position at the United Nations. Laverne Jacobs is Canada’s candidate for the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She talks to Tony Doucette about what that means and what she hopes to achieve if she is elected. 8:16

The committee plays an important role in the implementation of the UN disability rights convention, said Jacobs. It examines reports on various countries and makes recommendations on the convention, receives complaints and investigates allegations of human rights violations.

It would be important for Canada to get a seat at the table because it would be the first time, Jacobs said.

“It is important for us to share our experiences and also to have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other countries,” she said.

Windsor Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who announced Jacobs’ election as Canadian candidate Thursday, called it a historic moment for the country and region.

In a press release, Kusmierczyk said it was “a great day for empowering Canadians with disabilities and promoting an accessible Canada”.

Jacobs is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the Law School of the University of Windsor and founder of the University’s Law, Disability and Social Change Project.

“I am a committed scientist and academic, to be honest. I am very committed to the rights of people with disabilities,” she said. “I have experience working with both the disabled community and the government.”

Jacobs also pointed to the intersectional lens that could bring her into position.

“I am a black woman, in addition to someone with a disability, so I am aware of the challenges facing people with disabilities with an intersectional background,” she said.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from racism against blacks to success stories within the black community – see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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