Israeli Odelia Fitoussi elected to UN panel for persons with disabilities

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“I feel privileged to be a member of the CRPD,” said Fitoussi, “the place where Israel was a partner in creating a new language for people with disabilities.”

Odelia Fitoussi  (photo credit: ISRAEL AT THE UN)

Odelia Fitoussi

(photo credit: ISRAEL AT THE UN)

Following a year of international diplomatic campaign jointly led by the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry (MFA) and the Israeli Mission to the United Nations, Odelia Fitoussi was elected on Monday to represent Israel at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The CRPD is the leading UN body responsible for formulating a global policy for the 182 signatory states to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Israel was one of the leading nations to take part in drafting the convention, joining it in 2012.

In the election held on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York, representatives from 27 countries competed for nine slots on the committee. Israel won in the first round, receiving support from 109 countries.

“I feel privileged to be a member of the CRPD,” said Fitoussi, “the place where Israel was a partner in creating a new language for people with disabilities, a language of rights, of pride in who you are, in our uniqueness as people with disabilities who enrich society with all the good we have built.”

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Fitoussi, 43, born with muscular dystrophy (SMA2), will become the first Israeli selected to serve on this prestigious committee.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, congratulated Fitoussi on her victory. “Odelia is a tremendous source of pride for Israel,” he said.

“Her election,” he added, “represents a true triumph of the human spirit that will be an example for people with disabilities all over the world.”

“Israel’s extensive experience in the field of rights for people with disabilities will contribute greatly to the committee’s activities and will have a positive influence on the lives of many around the world,” continued Erdan.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also congratulated Fitoussi on her election.“I am proud of Odelia and am pleased with her election as Israel’s representative to the UN CRPD,” he said.

“I thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel and around the world for its diplomatic efforts for over a year, behind the scenes and in public, with the aim of convincing countries to vote for our candidate,” Ashkenazi added, recalling Israel’s Mission to the United Nations and the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic efforts to mobilize support for Fitoussi’s candidacy.

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Fitoussi, who is working as an art therapist with children, choose to dedicate her life to fighting for the rights of people with disabilities.

She has pushed for greater inclusion of teachers with disabilities in the education system and to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Israel.

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