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The Access Line
Ambassador Gallegos Leaves Washington
In an expected diplomatic “tit for tat” response to Ecuador’s decision to declare the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador persona non grata following Wikileaks’ disclosure of confidential correspondence, the U.S. Department of State declared on April 7, 2011 Ambassador Luis Gallegos persona non grata in the United States, stating that it was left with "no other option than this reciprocal action."
G3ict and disability advocates who have worked with Ambassador Gallegos on drafting the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sincerely regret to see him and his spouse Fabiola leave the United States under this unfortunate and unpredictable set of diplomatic circumstances.
Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States since 2005, His Excellency Luis Gallegos had been permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations since 2002, and as such played a critical role as founding chair of the Ad Hoc Preparatory Committee of the United Nations General Assembly responsible for the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. His leadership and diplomatic skills were instrumental in setting the stage to bringing the drafting process to fruition in a very short period of time. Scholars will note that it is under his leadership that, for the first time in history, an international treaty was negotiated with direct real time input from stakeholders via electronic means expanding the reach and effectiveness of the drafting committee in unprecedented ways. It exemplified the new paradigm of “nothing about us without us” dear to the Disability Community and was a landmark in Human Rights treaties since it permitted the ownership of the issue by those who suffer discrimination. As a result, the Committee delivered a most comprehensive, practical and much needed universal legal framework for countries to affirm and protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is an extraordinary tribute to the Ad Hoc Preparatory Committee and its founding Chair, Ambassador Luis Gallegos, that 147 countries, including the United States, have now signed the Convention and 99 ratified it – a historic achievement.
In December 2006, as the General Assembly was adopting the final text of the Convention, Ambassador Gallegos agreed to chair G3ict’s Board of Trustees to help us promote the very innovative ICT accessibility dispositions established by its Article 9. His inspiration, friendship and incredibly generous availability to join our advocacy, government and civil society briefing activities around the world over the past five years have been instrumental in our ability to establish G3ict as a trusted source of information, innovative solutions and good practices.
Our sincere appreciation goes to Ambassador Gallegos for his indefectible commitment to promoting accessibility and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for his work at the United Nations Committee against Torture and for his many contributions to Human Rights issues. Whether in the United States, in Ecuador or anywhere else in the world, Ambassador Gallegos’ wisdom and experience will continue to be a most valuable resource for all of us involved in accessibility and Human Rights matters. Our best wishes and warmest regards to him and his family in this unexpected transition.
Executive Director, G3ict