Relaunch Conference 2019

Newly elected General Secretary Richard Rieser with CDPF banner
Side meeting, 12th June, New York

Revised Constitution of Commonwealth Disabled Peoples’ Forum (2008) with Updates and amendments agreed by the General Assembly June 13th 2019


In light of the adoption UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by the General assembly in December 2006, the recognition by Commonwealth Heads of Government, in their statement in Kampala in November 2007 and subsequent statements of the need to adopt, ratify and implement the UNCRDP throughout the Commonwealth, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and challenge the continuing inequalities and exclusion disabled people face throughout the Commonwealth, we resolve to set up a Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum.

The principles governing the CDPF

The following principles shall govern the operations Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Forum.

(a) Respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy of members.

(b) Non-discrimination;

(c) Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;

(d) Respect for difference and acceptance of disabled people as part of human diversity and humanity;

(e) Equality of opportunity;

(g) Equality between men and women and between member countries;

(h) Respect for the evolving capacities of disabled children and respect for the right of disabled children to preserve their identities.

Article 1: Name

The name of this organization is Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF)

Article 2: Purpose

  1. The purpose of CDPF is to bring disabled people together, regardless of type of impairment, gender, age, race, indigenous, geographical background, religion, political affiliation from all countries of the Commonwealth, with a view to having one voice to advocate for promotion and equalization of opportunities for all disabled people.
  2. To engage and influence the structures and organs of the Commonwealth, especially the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the wider global human rights and disability rights movement.
  3. Implement the principles outlined in the preamble as contained in these documents.

Article 3:  Objects

The objects for which the Forum is established are:

a) To establish a Forum for all Disabled Peoples Organizations in the Commonwealth, open to organizations representing people with all forms and types of impairments.
b) To promote solidarity, enhance their development and to support the acquisition of all their human rights.
c) To promote equality for disabled people, meaning the process through which the general systems of society are made accessible to all by the removal of social, economic, civil, political, cultural, environmental and attitudinal barriers, such as the physical and cultural environment, housing, transport, information technology, health, social services, education, employment, family life, independent living, sports and recreation activities.
d) To advocate and provide support for the signing, ratification and monitoring full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by all Commonwealth countries.
e) To develop capacity building, awareness, empowerment among the general public, government authorities, professionals and disabled people and their organizations of their potential and rights.
f) To influence governments of the Commonwealth and regional mechanisms to fully involve the CPDF and DPOs in formulation of policies, programmes, monitoring of implementation of the UNCRPD and SDGs or all other decisions and programmes which affect disabled people.
g) To serve as a home of expertise and reference for the Commonwealth Governments, DPOs and other disability stakeholders in Commonwealth countries through technical assistance, guidance and documentation on disability matters.
h) To strengthen and empower disabled women and girls’ human rights in Commonwealth countries, to end violence against women and girls and address sexual health and reproductive rights of disabled women and girls with reference to CEDAW, CRPD Article 6 and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995).
i) To recognise the impact on disabled people within the history of the Commonwealth and the impact of colonisation, dispossession, current and historical colonial acts of oppression, injustice and inequality and ensure that measures are in place to address these issues so that reconciliation can take place.
j) To promote sustainable programmes and activities for disabled Women, Youth and Indigenous People to develop their empowerment and independent living.
k) To build and strengthen relations with local, national, regional and international donors, potential donors, NGOs and other institutions or individuals who subscribe to the aims and the objectives of the CDPF.
l) To mobilize resources through fundraising, subscriptions, donations, endowments and income generation projects.
m) To solicit support from governments and other agencies and the general public through negotiations, persuasions, appeals and other ways.
n) To borrow or raise money in such a manner as the CDPF may deem fit.
o) To invest the moneys of the CDPF, not immediately required for its purposes, in such manner as may be approved by the Executive Committee.
p) To undertake and execute any trusts which may lawfully be undertaken by the CDPF to further its objectives.
q) To print and publish any virtual materials, website, social media, pamphlets, articles, newspapers, periodicals, books, film, leaflets that the CDPF may think desirable for the promotion of its objectives in accessible formats.
r) To support and subscribe to any organisation, institution, society, club or cause which may be for the benefit of the CDPF or its employees or for the advancement of its objectives.
s) To do any other such lawful things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above objects or any of them.

Article 4: Registered Office   There will be a registered office of CDPF which will be situated in London, United Kingdom and in other Commonwealth countries as resources allow.  

Article 5: Membership

a) Within CDPF there shall be full members, DPO Associate members, corporate members, associate and individual members. The Forum shall seek the widest representation of groups of disabled persons of national populations as well as regards gender, religion, race, language, geography and impairment, etc. Organizations including family members and/or relatives of persons with disabilities, which are pivotal in facilitating, promoting and securing the interests and supporting the autonomy and active participation of their relatives with intellectual disabilities, dementia and/or children with disabilities, when these groups of persons with disabilities want to be supported by their families as united networks or organizations. In such cases, these organizations should be included in consultation, decision-making and monitoring processes. The role of parents, relatives and caregivers in such organizations should be to assist and empower persons with disabilities to have a voice and take full control of their own lives. Such organizations should actively work to promote and use supported decision-making processes to ensure and respect the right of persons with disabilities to be consulted and to express their own views; in line with General Comment No 7 are counted as DPOs. paragraph 12 (a) [then quote the paragraph]. These organisations are understood to be organisations “that are led, directed and governed by persons with disabilities.  A clear majority of their membership should be recruited among persons with disabilities themselves” (CRPD General Comment, paragraph 10). No more than 10% of any voting body of the CDPF will be comprised of such organisations.

b) Full Members Full membership of the CDPF shall be open to national Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) in any country of the Commonwealth qualified under the provisions of this article. “DPOs” means that a majority of the members as well as the governing body shall be disabled people and in the case of those with intellectual disabilities or others mentioned in 5a also their families and they shall represent a wide range of impairments and local DPOs in line with the stipulations of 5a. ‘A national DPO is one with membership in at least one half of the country and representing a wide range of impairments.’ Full members shall exercise voting powers- 2 votes, send delegates to CDPF organs, and nominate persons to CDPF offices.

c) DPO Associates. This is for country regional organisations which are not national or national organisations for a single impairment group, which are run by a majority of disabled people on governing body and have a majority of their membership who are disabled people and in the case of those with intellectual disabilities or others mentioned in 5a) also their families They will be able to attend meetings, speak,  and have 1 vote send delegates to CDPF organs.

d) Corporate Members Corporate membership may be granted to international uni-disability organizations which support CDPF objectives and which are organizations where a majority of members as well as the governing bodies are persons with disabilities in accordance with definitions in article 1. Representatives of corporate members have speaking rights at the CDPF General Assembly. A limited number of persons representing corporate members can attend to the General Assembly with speaking rights has no voting rights, nor the right to be nominated or to nominate persons to office, but has speaking rights.

 e) Associate members may be granted membership if they are international Non Governmental Organisations who will fund, support and will promote the objectives of the CDPF. Their disabled representatives may attend general assemblies with speaking rights but without no voting rights, nor the right to be nominated or to nominate persons to office.

f)  Individual Members Individual membership may be granted by the General Assembly on recommendation by the executive committee to prominent disabled individuals who may not necessarily be in any DPOs, but who support CDPF objectives and would wish to be associated with it.

An individual member has no voting rights, nor the right to be nominated or to nominate persons to office, but has speaking rights.

               Article 6: Application for membership

 Membership applications and applications for re-admission as a member of CDPF shall be decided by the General Assembly on recommendation of the Executive Committee.

Article 7: Membership Fees

The General Assembly shall have powers to levy membership and other fees on recommendations of the Executive Committee. A member unable to pay prescribed membership fees can seek partial or complete exemption from the Executive Committee. The General Assembly will determine fees. There is no fee currently.

Article 8: Termination of Membership

  1. The General Assembly shall have powers to determine the continued compliance with membership requirements of the members.
  2. A member that wishes to terminate its membership shall give notice to the Chairperson. Such notice shall take effect six (6) months after it is received provided that the member has at that time fulfilled its entire financial obligation to CDPF.
  3. A member may be expelled if is in serious arrears in payment of financial contributions to CDPF by a resolution of the General Assembly passed by a simple majority of those present and voting. 
  4. A member may be expelled due to a cause that is detrimental to the interests and purposes of CDPF.
  5. The General Assembly may, by resolution passed by simple majority of those present and voting, determine the outcome of non-compliance with membership requirements.
  6. The affected member shall be given due notice and an opportunity to respond.
  7.  A member shall cease to be a member of the CFDP if the member’s country ceases to be a member of the Commonwealth.
  8. All members shall automatically cease to be members if the CFDP is wound up.

   Article 9: Organization

CDPF shall consist of the General Assembly, Executive Committee, and Staff. In all elections of CDPF, secret ballots shall be used.

Article 10: General Assembly

  1. The  General Assembly shall be the supreme policy making body of the organisation and it shall consist of representatives from all paid up member DPOs of the Forum from Africa, Caribbean, South Asia, Pacific, South East Asia and the ABCN countries shall attempt to ensure that all groups of disabled persons and gender are fairly represented.
  2. The General Assembly shall, among other things, adopt and amend the constitution; elect the Executive Committee, the Patron and Auditors; determine membership and annual fees; approve policies, programmes, work plans and budgets of the Forum; receive and adopt reports and audited accounts from the Executive and approve admission of new members.
  3. The General Assembly shall be convened bi-annually before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for the purpose of, among other things, receiving the chairperson’s reports and audited accounts; electing the Board of Directors, and Patron and appointing Auditors.
  4. Notice of the bi-Annual General Assembly shall be 21 days and Extraordinary or Special General Assembly 14 days given in writing and signed by the Secretary addressed to each member entitled to receive notice and widely publicized in mass media.
  5. The General Assembly shall serve as final court of appeal on all matters as regards the rights and obligations of members.
  6. The quorum for the general assembly is 20% of membership

 Article 11: Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Conference

  1. The Commonwealth Peoples Conference as far as possible be convened bi-annually before CHOGM, among other things, to review current developments in the disability field and prepare proposals for submission to CHOGM for consideration.
  2. All members of the Forum shall be entitled to send delegates to the bi-Annual Disabled Peoples Conference and shall be entitled to speak at the conference, and to share materials and good practice..
  3. The Executive Committee may assist DPOs in the country hosting CHOGM or any other Commonwealth country as may be decided by the Executive Committee to organize the bi- Annual Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Conference.

Article 12: Executive Committee

  1. The Executive shall consist of a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson (2 at least I shall be a woman), Secretary, Treasurer, Women Representative (1), Youth Representatives (2) (at least 1 from CCYDN, Indigenous People’s Representative (1), Intellectual Disability and under represented groups and others as defined in 5a (1) and  representatives from each of the regions of Africa (2), the Caribbean (1), South Asia/SE Asia (2), Pacific (1) and the Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand countries (1) elected at the bi-General Assembly of the Forum and shall hold office for two years.
  2. At its first meeting, the Executives may co-opt not more than three other members bearing in mind gender, disability categories and other consideration. Co-opted members shall also serve for two years. 1 shall be Communications officer.
  3.  Meetings of the Executive Committee shall be convened by the chairperson at least once a year, and written notice dully signed by the Secretary shall be sent to all members of the Board giving fourteen days notice. At all meetings of the Executive the quorum shall be 7 of the membership of the Board. Other meetings will take place using alternative communication.
  4. The Executive Committee shall exercise all such powers as may be exercised or done by the CDPF except those things required to be done by the CDPF in a General Assembly. No regulations made by the Forum in a General Assembly shall invalidate any prior act of the Board which would have been valid if such regulation had not been made.
  5. All acts done by the authority of the Executive Committtee or any sub committee thereof and of the individual members of the Executive, in good faith and with the authority express or implied of the CDPF, shall be deemed to be the acts of the CDPF and every member of the Executive shall be indemnified by the CDPF for any costs, losses and expenses incurred for the furtherance of the objects and purposes of the CDPF.
  6. Upon petition signed by one half of the Executive Committee, the Chairperson shall convene a special meeting of the Executive Committee giving seven days notice and special business to be conducted.
  7. A member of the Executive shall cease his/her membership if he resigns, or becomes, or his country ceases to be a member of the Commonwealth, or if removed by two thirds majority of members of the Board or absents himself from meetings for one year with out cause, or commits a criminal offence, or is declared bankrupt or dies.
  8. The Executive may fill casual vacancies from members who are qualified to serve on the Board.

            Article 13: Functions of the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall act on behalf of the General Assembly, in between its meetings and shall, among other things:

  1. Set up a secretariat and appoint staff on such terms and conditions as they may deem fit and regulate their performance and conduct.
  2. Consider ways and means of financing the operations and programmes of the CDPF and also protect and preserve its assets.
  3. Ensure the attainment of the objectives for which the CDPF is established and maintain effective reporting to the General Assembly of all matters which requires its attention.
  4. Receive, consider and approve applications for membership and maintain a register of members.
  5. Prepare and present to the General Assembly for approval annual reports, budgets, programs and plans and audited financial accounts.
  6. Set up committees to perform such specific tasks as may be deemed necessary for attainment of the CDPF objectives.
  7. Draw up rules and regulations to regulate their own conduct and that of the secretariat and its staff.
  8. Serve all members of the CDPF as equitably as possible and convene meetings of the CDPF as provided for in this constitution.
  9.  Ensure maximum participation possible by all categories of disabled persons in CDPF activities.
  10. Advise the Commonwealth, United Nations, and other relevant bodies on matters relating to the activities of CDPF.

     Article 14: Officers of the Executive

  1. The Chairperson shall be the head of the Forum and Executive and shall convene and preside over meetings of the General Assembly and Board of Executive.
  2. The Vice Chairperson shall act in the absence of the Chairperson or in case of his/her inability to perform.
  3. The Secretary shall be the secretary of all meetings of the General Assembly, the Executive and Committees of the CDPF and shall notify members of meetings, take minutes of all meetings and circulate them to all members entitled to receive them.
  4. The Treasurer shall take custody of all the funds and other assets of the Forum and shall be accountable for all funds to the Forum in the General Assembly. The financial year of the Forum shall be 1st April to 31s March of each succeeding year.
  5. The Women’s Representative shall be responsible for ensuring that there is mobilisation, sensitisation and empowerment of disabled women and welfare programmes for disabled children are initiated by the CPDF.
  6. The Youth Representatives shall be responsible for ensuring that there is mobilisation; sensitisation, empowerment of the youth with disabilities and that they are afforded opportunities for participation in sports and cultural and other activities.
  7. The Indigenous Peoples’ representative shall be responsible for ensuring that there is mobilisation; sensitisation, empowerment of indigenous disabled people and that they are afforded opportunities for participation in sports and cultural and other activities.
  8. The Communications Officer will ensure regular communications with the membership and develop electronic communications.
  9. Intellectual Disability and other under-represented groups Officer will ensure their issues are part of CDPF proceedings.
  10. Executive Committee members shall attend all meetings and play a full part in running the CDPF.
  11. The Executive shall draw up guidelines to regulate the Executive Committee in the conduct of its business.

     Article 15: Country Focal Point

1. The Executive shall nominate one national DPO from each of the Commonwealth countries to be known as Country Focal Point to represent the interests of the CDPF in that country and for purposes of this Article every member of the Executive shall be a Country Representative of his or her country.

2. The functions of a Country Focal Point shall include, among other things:

  1. Recruitment of qualifying DPOs as members of the Forum.
  2. Providing information to DPOs about the Forum and promote the interests of the Forum in that country.
  3. Ensuring that member DPOs discharge their responsibilities to the Forum,
  4. Monitoring on behalf of the Forum the implementation of the Convention on the rights of people with disabilities and submit reports appropriately.
  5. Submitting annual reports to the Board on the state of disabled persons in the country especially with regard to new innovative policies, legislation in the area of promoting inclusion and protection of rights, among others.
  6. Undertaking any other tasks as may be assigned by the Board or the Chairman from time to time

Article 16: Patron

  1. The Patron shall be a distinguished personality in the Commonwealth nominated by the Executive Committee and approved by the General Assembly.
  2. He or she shall represent the interests of the CDPF at the highest level in Commonwealth Governments; promote its development, may help raising funds for the programs of the CDPF, and shall hold office for two years and eligible for re- election for further terms of two years.

Article 17: Relations with other International Organizations

  1. CDPF may cooperate, in accordance with the provisions of this constitution, with any international organization of interest to CDPF in the promotion of its objectives either by way of corporate membership or observer status.
  2. The CDPF may permit the participation of governmental and non- governmental organisations in CDPF meetings and activities, and may also participate in meetings, programs or activities of other organisations having similar objectives.
  3. It may also be affiliated to another organisation with similar objectives by a resolution of the Executive approved by the General Assembly.

Article 18: Financial and Budgetary Arrangements

  1. The funds of the CDPF shall consist of membership and annual subscription fees; grants and donations from governments, international organisations and well wishers; funds raised from functions of the CDPF; funds raised for specific programs; funds raised from profits, interests, deposits, commissions, dividends accruing to the CDPF and Funds raised from any other lawful source.
  2. The Executive may from time to time raise funds by way of borrowing from banking or other financial institutions or company on such terms as shall be approved by the Executive Committee.
  3. The Treasurer shall deposit all funds of the CDPF with the bank or banks approved by the Executive.
  4. The Executive may set up a special trust fund for money received for special purposes and shall submit regular reports certified by the auditors on the functioning of the fund.
  5. The Executive may at any time call upon any member of the CDPF to pay forthwith any account due and on failure to make such payment, a member shall not be allowed the privileges of the Forum until the account is settled and the Executive may take such other action as they may deem necessary to recover the debt.
  6. The Executive shall draw up financial regulations relating to signatories to cheques and negotiable instruments and make other rules and regulations for the proper and effective management of the funds of the CDPF.
  7. There shall be strict accounting practices in the CDPF and as far as possible the Treasurer shall demand and give receipts on behalf of the CDPF and the authority to expend and withdraw funds shall rest with the Executive Committee provided that the fixed assets of the CDPF shall be only be disposed of by a resolution of the Executive.

Article 19: Audit

  1. The General Assembly on recommendation by the Executive shall appoint auditors and may be paid such fees or honourium as may be recommended by the Executive Committee and approved by the General Assembly.
  2. The annual accounts shall be closed on 31st March of each year and the accounts shall be audited by 30th September , printed and a copy shall be presented to the bi – Annual General Assembly.

Article 20: By Laws 

  1. The Executive shall have powers to make, alter and rescind such bye laws or rules as they may from time to time deem necessary, expedient or convenient for the proper conduct, management and welfare of the CDPF, in particular, but not exclusively by such by laws.
  2. There shall be a set of by laws with more detailed rules and regulations on the procedures to be followed in the organization.

Article 21: Amendments to the Constitution

  1. This constitution may be altered or amended from time to time on the recommendation of the Executive only at the General Assemblies or at special General Assemblies called for that purpose, by a majority of two thirds of members present with the right to vote.
  2.  The Executive prior to submission to the General Assembly, shall circulate the proposed amendment or amendments to members for their opinions at least 2 months notice should be given..
  3. The quorum necessary to invoke this article shall be two thirds of the delegates entitled to attend and vote representing paid up members of the Forum.

          Article 22: Interpretation

The powers to give final interpretation of any provision of these Articles shall rest with the General Assembly whose interpretation shall be binding on the members.

Article 23: Dissolution of the Organization

  1. The General Assembly on recommendation of the Executive, shall by resolution supported by two thirds of the members present and entitled to vote, dissolve the Forum.
  2. In the event of dissolution of the Forum the property of the Forum shall be disposed of in such a manner as shall be determined by the General Assembly provided that no property whatsoever shall be given to an individual, but shall be donated to another organisation with similar objectives.

Article 24: Entry into force

This version of the constitution entered into force when approved by General Assembly held on 13th June 2019.