Dr Floyd Morris, Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Mona Campus will be representing the interests of persons with disabilities on the global stage for the next four years in a new capacity. His successful bid in becoming a member of the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was confirmed after the election on Monday, November 30, 2020 at the United Nations’ New York Headquarters.
The CRPD is the international body of experts that monitors the implementation of the rights guaranteed under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2007). Some 180 members of the UN voted for the selection of nine new members from a field of 29 candidates. Well respected and fully endorsed by a CARICOM body of 15, Dr Morris was widely held to be the best candidate for this membership from the region.
In his stewardship as Minister of State in the Government of Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security, he led negotiations which culminated in the country being the first in the world to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. Dr Morris’ service to the public also includes his current tenure as Opposition Senator, and President of the Senate of Jamaica (2013-2016). He was also instrumental in the passing of the Disabilities Act 2014 and introduced sign language to the Jamaican Parliament.
Dr Morris has made his mark advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities all while being an outstanding public servant, educator, researcher and a recognised Caribbean expert on disability. He is also a sought-after conference speaker and media contributor.
Responding to his successful bid for this membership, Dr Morris said: “Representing this community is my life’s work. Representing my country in this capacity is a continuation of that work and I am humbled by the confidence placed in me by my colleagues locally and regionally to represent the interest of persons with disabilities in this capacity.
“The UWI must be commended for allowing me to practice and own my skills in an unbridled way and I am eternally grateful for its support. I am excited to begin this new chapter of representing my country on the world’s stage,” Dr Morris noted.
As Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at The UWI Mona Campus, Dr Morris has mobilised more than JMD$90 million in grant funding for projects under the Centre which was his brainchild. In 2014, Dr Morris served as Conference Chair for the inaugural Regional Disability Studies Conference and launched the Regional Disability Index in 2018. He has consistently contributed to making The UWI, Mona an environment that is accommodating to persons with disabilities. His efforts have seen significant advancements on the Campus including a progressive policy on physical access to persons with disabilities; modern equipment to aid students with disabilities; special facilities for student accommodation; employment for persons with disabilities, including students through a Summer employment programme and the work of the Centre for Disability Studies in driving research, training, public education and advocacy for persons with disabilities.
Reacting to the announcement, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI, Mona Campus, Professor Dale Webber said: “He was given this mandate, not because of his disability, but because of his ability to represent the interest of members of the community of persons with disabilities. They can rest assured that they have a champion in their corner who will ensure their interests are protected. He did it on the Mona Campus and nationally as a State Minister, and I have no doubt he will continue to be the extraordinary advocate he has proven himself to be on the global stage. I could not be prouder to call him a friend and colleague.”
Dr Morris was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Disability Policy and Legislative Reform in Jamaica in 2012. Most recently, on November 19, he was honoured with The UWI’s prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Service to the University Community. In congratulating Dr Morris on his appointment to this important UN body, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said, “In addition to being a distinguished colleague, Dr Morris is a good friend. I am therefore elated by his success that shows The UWI for what it is: the most democratic, egalitarian, people-centred and empowering university in the world.”
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