Law professor Laverne Jacobs has become 1st Canadian on UN’s disabilities rights committee

Professor Laverne Jacobs

Laverne Jacobs has been elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) — the first time Canada will have a seat at this table.

She said one of her goals it to help provide practical guidance for countries on how to further disability rights in a way that is inclusive.

“My vision for the CRPD committee is that it complete its role in a way that is intersectional so that it thinks about, not just disability, but how disability affects people who are also from other marginalized communities, such as racialized communities, women, … people form the LGBTQ community, the elderly, etcetera,” said Jacobs.

The 18-person committee, which features experts from around the world, plays an important role in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“As a person with disabilities, I have physical disabilities — this is personally quite a touching moment,” Jacobs said.

“I’m feeling as though I’m lucky to have the opportunity to contribute on the international scale. I also feel lucky to have the opportunity to learn from the others who are on the committee.”

The Canadian Civil Society endorsed Jacobs to the position earlier this month.

“Dr. Laverne Jacobs is not only a disability law professor, social justice advocate, and human rights lawyer, but a dynamic and insightful leader in both domestic and international disability rights movements,” the society wrote in a statement.

Professor Laverne Jacobs

The society said the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for advocacy for more rights for those with disabilities.

In a tweet, the Liberal MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, Irek Kusmierczyk, congratulated Jacobs.

“Truly a remarkable day — [University of Windsor] professor Dr. Laverne Jacobs elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” he wrote.

“A first for Windsor and first ever Canadian to serve on this vital UN committee. Bravo!”

Jacobs is also the editor and lead author of the a Canadian textbook on the law and disability, Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials.

She will start serving a four-year term on the UN committee, on a part-time basis, in January, and will continue to teach at the University of Windsor.