EU to promote disability rights globally

EU to promote disability rights globally
EDF welcomes the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the EUs newly launched Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024

The European Commission has recently released the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-24. Implementation of the plan will be led by – Mr. Eamon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative on Human Rights,1.5 billion Euros are allocated from the EU budget for its implementation. The Action Plan has five lines of action:

  • Protecting and empowering individuals;
  • Building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies;
  • Promoting a global system for Human Rights and Democracy;
  • Harnessing opportunities and addressing challenges posed by the use of new technologies;
  • Delivering by working together.

It addresses the new opportunities and challenges of our times, and therefore focuses on some new elements, such as the link between global environmental challenges and human rights or leveraging the benefits of digital technologies.It particularly mentions promoting the accessibility of technologies for persons with disabilities.

In March 2020, EDF published an open letter together with IDA and IDDC calling for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in this EU Action Plan. Our letter drew policy makers’ attention to the importance of including persons with disabilities in the EUs global human rights work, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

With regards to the rights of persons with disabilities, the Action Plan includes the following objectives:

  • Combat all forms of discrimination on any ground with a specific attention to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination including on grounds of disability.(Page 9)
  • Advocate for third countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). (Page 12, 1.2.d.)
  • Ensure accessibility to infrastructure, transport, information, and communication technologies (ICT) and ensure inclusive services, such as quality education, including distance learning, healthcare, justice, and employment, promoting the accessibility of technologies for everyone, including persons with disabilities and other persons in vulnerable situations, already at the design stage of new technologies covering all sectors including education. (Page 12, 1.2.d.)

During a fruitful discussion Ms. Heather Grabbe, the Director of Open Society European Policy Institute, Ms. Patricia Lombart Cussac from the EU Head of Delegation in Colombia, Professor Olivier de Schutter the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and Mr. Kevin Casas Zamora, the Secretary-General of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) also presented their views on the strategy. The speakers backed up High Representative Josep Borrell’s statement that this ambitious plan is an opportunity for Europe to stand up for its human rights values.

Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) emphasised during the launch event that the UN, the EU with its member states and the civil society must work together even more closely to ensure that the Action Plan is implemented. As she said „It requires daily work and attention. Walking the talk does not happen by itself, we must work for it every day and this work is never finished. This action plan is a tool that can help us.” The European Disability Forum advocates for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in all policies and programmes of the EU, including in its external actions. EDF welcomes the important references to persons with disability within the new Human Rights Action plan and will work to ensure that the disability inclusive elements can be fully implemented in cooperation with organisations of persons with disabilities around the world.

Link to the Action Plan

Joint communication tot he European Parliament and the Council

Link to the event recording on Facebook