DPI experienced internal challenges in the year 2015 which led to a split in the DPI leadership and two separate Boards witnessed by the disability community.
However, in 2017, two representative members from each of the DPI’s met several times during the Conference of State Parties (COSP) in New York to try to establish the terms under which DPI could be reunited. This led to a joint statement being made to the COSP by Trevor Carroll and John Luc Simon from the opposing DPI’s which was really the start of the process of reunification.
Whilst the two representative groups kept in regular touch by email it was clear that the circumstances for reunification of DPI were not yet in place.
The breakthrough came in 2018,when multiple representatives from both DPI’s met during the Conference of State Parties (COSP) in New York and decided to formerly resume talks to re-unite the organization and lead it to its previous international status. Both groups appointed a committee of 2 members each to form the DPI Unification Coordination Committee (UCC). They are Jean-Luc Simon, Trevor Carroll, Taisuke Miyamoto and Mohammed Ali Loutfy who still continue in this role.
Several virtual meetings started the process with further face-to-face meetings being held during the 2019 COSP followed by more virtual meetings during which the UCC developed an Action Plan for reunification of DPI and a statement of the Roles and Responsibilities of UCC members.
The following documents were developed by the UCC during 1999-2000, sent to both DPI board’s for consideration which were all approved without amendment:
- DPI Unification Dispute Resolution Procedure Final
- Procedure for DPI Unification Final
- Statement of Intent for DPI unification
However, the current COVID-19 pandemic saw the frequency between UCC meetings grow larger during 2020, but by the occasion of the 13th session of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020, a joint virtual side-event had been organized and was hosted jointly by both UCC DPI members. It was called ‘Memory into the Future’. This was a unique moment since the split in 2015 and finally brought the re-unification process to the attention of the world disability community.
This side event highlighted DPI’s 39 year history of contribution to the rights of persons with disabilities and to global development and as part of the history of the CRPD. DPI as an organization, has seen and moulded many of the disability leaders of yesterday and today and continues to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.
This side-event was deliberately aimed to help instil the passion among its current and former members to reunite DPI and make up for lost time caused by the split. During this side-event, stakeholders presented key milestones along the road from the founding of DPI in 1981 to the adoption of the CRPD in 2006 and then looked ahead to the current challenges of sustainable development. A range of short videos, messages from both DPI’s, former leaders and discussion points were used during the presentation of this side event. Members of the DPI UCC also read out the Statement of Unification during this side-event and made a video recording of the side event.
The UCC’s next task is to prepare a new constitution that both DPI boards agree to and then present it to a World Assembly for consideration, discussion and approval by members from both DPI’s. This will be followed by elections for a single DPI Board of Directors and the reunification process will be complete in both letter and spirit! That will long live in the memory of all attendees as yet another major milestone in the history of DPI.
In fact, DPI’s long history has been an inspiration to the world disability community, encouraging everyone including mainstream stakeholders to be creative and responsive in the face of adversity. This is what DPI’s founders did during the initial years and what DPI’s leaders continue to do so now to reunite the organisation.