COSP15 – The Most Inclusive UN conference on Disability Rights to Date: Finland Ends Presidency of the Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with Several Historic Firsts

The 15th Annual Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ended last Thursday, marking the end of Finland’s two year term as President of the COSP Bureau. Finland’s term saw an emphasis on civil society participation and increasing accessibility throughout the UN system. With these priorities, Finland oversaw the most accessible and inclusive COSP to date.

Pictured: Finland's delegation to COSP15

For the first time ever, COSP included an Easy to Read program(Link to another website.) and Easy to Read background notes, extending accessibility. In addition, the COSP15 bureau was proud to include a youth delegate for the first time, to highlight the necessity of including youth representation in discussions. Individual reasonable accommodation was also given to persons with disabilities.



The 15th COSP included over 180 member states, the most ever. As President of the COSP Bureau, Finland oversaw the organization of the conference, and facilitated active civil society participation. Finland also hosted several side events in collaboration with various civil society representatives, such as IDA the International Disability Alliance(Link to another website.), and held an important walkthrough of the UN conference spaces with civil society representatives of persons with disabilities to ensure accessible routes and reasonable accommodation among other things.

The presidency of COSP15 was chaired by the Permanent State Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Jukka Salovaara(Link to another website.), who is a familiar face around the United Nations, as he previously served as the Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN.

The Finnish delegation included representatives such as Mr. Henrik Gustafsson(Link to another website.) from Invalidiliitto, the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, Finland-based disability rights NGO, Mr. Tuomas Tuure(Link to another website.) and Ms. Amu Urhonen(Link to another website.) of the Abilis Foundation, as well as Ambassador for Disability Inclusion, Mr. Petri Puhakka. Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari delivered Finland’s National Statement.

If you want to hear more about Finland’s priorities during COSP15, please see the recording of UN press briefing at UN Web TV, featuring Mr. Salovaara and Mr. José María Viera from IDA:

UN Web TV – COSP15 Press Briefing

With Finland’s two year presidency coming to an end, we want to warmly thank our bureau colleagues from the Permanent Missions of Guatemala, Iraq, Poland, and Zambia as well as all other stakeholders for supporting and cooperating with us throughout the presidency. We pass the torch to Tunisia as president of COSP16 and COSP17, and look forward to continuing the promotion of rights of persons with disabilities within the UN system and beyond.

Article by: Gideon Lung