EDF strengthens cooperation with the pacific ASEAN and African regional networks

26 February 2016

From 22 to 25 of February, EDF welcomed our sister networks of persons with disabilities from the Africa, Pacific and ASEAN regions to Brussels. With the support of the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the International Disability Alliance, EDF developed a programme of exchange, learning, advocacy and networking in Brussels for 17 disability activists representing these regional networks.

Highlights of the programme included:

  • Learning about the EU’s approach to the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Learning about the EU’s external action work- both internally and at the regional and country level
  • Exchange of views with EDF on the strategic and governance approaches of regional networks

EDF staff shared their knowledge and experience on key topics for regional advocacy such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), accessibility, social and employment policy, disability cards, working with regional parliaments etc.

On Tuesday 23 February, we hosted a roundtable discussion on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), with the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and CBM, to discuss how regional organisations of persons with disabilities can be involved in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction , This is a voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that states have the primary role to reduce disaster risk in cooperation with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

In the evening of Wednesday 24 February, the Disability Intergroup hosted a well-attended reception in the European Parliament, with excellent speakers including our host MEP Richard Howitt, the Australian Ambassador Mark Higgie, EDF Board member Thorkild Olesen, and representatives from the African, ASEAN and Pacific disability fora.

On 25 February, we held a roundtable discussion on challenges for women with disabilities, including speakers from amongst our guests and also the Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby, Joanna Maycock. A lively discussion on women’s rights, and the rights of women with disabilities provided us with many new concrete insights on how to work well on women’s rights within the disability movement, and on disability within the women’s movement.

Our partners and colleagues from the European Commission's DG DEVCO and External action service, and members of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), in particular CBM and Light for the World, helped us to arrange an extensive schedule of external meetings with European Parliamentarians and European Commission officials.

In the closing day of our exchange week, we elaborated on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Framework and we had the opportunity for an in-depth discussion with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas on this topic.


In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to build on this initiative, together with our partners, to determine the most effective ways in which organisations of persons with disabilities can promote the rights of persons with disabilities towards regional nitration organisations. We will furthermore invest efforts in making sure the EU’s relationships with other regional integration organisations can stimulate the promotion of human rights.

This article will be updated with other photos and perspectives and quotes from our guests from the ASEAN, African and Pacific regional DPO networks. For more in-depth information on the week, also search #regionalexchange on Twitter.


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